Patient Stories at NCH

Michael's Story

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‘I didn’t feel like I had surgery’

Michael Rhodes was experiencing pain and discomfort in his abdomen that he soon learned was the result of a ventral hernia.

While Michael knew he would eventually need to have the hernia removed, the 73-year-old Schaumburg resident was reluctant to schedule surgery because he had a busy schedule and was enjoying his retirement.

“I was hesitant to get the hernia fixed because it was a busy time for me,” Michael recalls. “I am an active guy who goes to the gym to stay in shape. I was led to believe that the recovery time was going to be extensive.”

Michael was eventually referred to NCH surgeon Alan Loren, M.D., Ph.D., who delivered some positive news about undergoing ventral hernia surgery.  

Dr. Loren recommended surgery with NCH’s newest technology – the da Vinci Xi, a four-armed robot that offers greater range of motion and greater surgical reach for surgeons.

The da Vinci Xi has broader capabilities than prior generations of the da Vinci system, with the adaptability to be used across an array of surgeries in urology, gynecology, thoracic, cardiac, and general surgery, such as Michael’s ventral hernia surgery.

Michael became one of the first patients at NCH who underwent surgery with the new da Vinci Xi technology in early November. He hardly missed a beat in his active lifestyle. He walked out of the hospital the same day as his surgery.

“I took one pain pill and that was the only pill I needed,” Michael says. “I was happily surprised with my experience.”

The benefits of using the robot include smaller incisions, less blood loss, less pain, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to work, Loren says. The Xi possesses 3D-HD visualization, giving surgeons a highly magnified view, virtually extending their eyes and hands into the patient.

“As a surgeon, I am particularly excited by the improvements in this generation of da Vinci, which offers greater vision, dexterity and precision,” Loren says. “This technology truly is a natural extension of a surgeon’s eyes and hands. The da Vinci Xi allows us to provide state-of-the-art technological advancements to our patients facing complex surgical procedures and propels NCH to pave the way in clinical care.”

Michael was cleared to return to his gym workouts one week later. He often lifts weights and rides a stationary bicycle several times a week.

“I didn’t feel like I had surgery at all,” Michael recalls. “I could drive, walk down stairs and continue working out. I had no restrictions at all.”

Michael's Story - da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgery at NCH