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Shushing down ski slopes six weeks after surgery

Kristine Wazio learned in January that there was no putting off the hysterectomy she had discussed for months with her gynecologist, Dr. Naheed Akhter – not even for a planned family ski trip. Just six weeks after her Feb. 9 surgery at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, the 47-year-old Batavia resident was enjoying the ski slopes in Breckenridge, Colo.

She credits her quick, uncomplicated recovery to the da Vinci robotic surgical system. Doctors like Akhter use the da Vinci robot at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital to perform complicated procedures in a minimally invasive manner, using very small cuts rather than major incisions. Akhter is now recommending it to all of her patients for abdominal hysterectomies

“I’m advising my patients to now consider our state-of-the-art da Vinci technology, which is much less invasive than traditional surgery,” Akhter said. “The chance of infection is greatly reduced, and patients report that they experience less pain. Recovery is much faster.”

Akhter always shows her patients a video demonstrating the da Vinci surgical system and discusses it with them before surgery.

“Dr. Akhter told me I was going to love the da Vinci method and that I’d still be able to go skiing,” Wazio said. “And she was right. My recovery has been phenomenal. I didn’t even fill my pain medicine prescription.”

To operate the da Vinci surgical system, the surgeon sits at a console near the patient. The robot holds the surgical tools and the surgeon moves the robot’s four arms guided by a high-power camera. The robot’s jointed “wrists” enable the surgeon to have the feel of open surgery. The da Vinci’s monitoring system provides the surgeon with a clear, colored, magnified, three-dimensional view of the patient’s anatomy. By contrast, the pictures produced during traditional laparoscopic surgery contain only two-dimensions and the surgeon must look away from the patient to view these pictures.

“It’s like operating a video game,” Wazio said.

Both she and her husband went on the Internet to learn more about this technology, which some experts believe is the most effective and least invasive surgical option available. The da Vinci method is used for a wide variety of surgical treatments, including those for prostate cancer, uterine fibroids and kidney disorders.

Wazio is back at work helping to manage her husband John’s orthodontic practice. They have a daughter, Lauren, 15, and a son, Matthew, 12. Wazio would recommend the da Vinci system to others.

“I felt comfortable going into surgery because I knew I was in good hands,” Wazio said. “I have nothing but positive things to say.”