Trident Health System
February 22, 2017

Summerville Woman Helps Mark Milestone

Charleston, SC - Seventy-two-year-old Helen Poole of Summerville was surprised to learn she would be the 6,000th patient to undergo robotic surgery at Trident Medical Center. For her, the event is more an opportunity to correct a leaking bladder, a common condition among women especially those who've had multiple pregnancies in short succession.

"I have five sons, but I had three in three years," she said before adding, "I started having problem afterwards."

Pregnancy is just one of a number of conditions that cause the tissues and muscles in the body cavity to weaken and become unable to hold the pelvis in its natural orientation. Each year there are more than 120,000 cases of uterine and vaginal vault prolapse surgically treated in the U.S. Prolapse, or falling, of any pelvic floor organ (vagina, uterus, bladder, or rectum) occurs when the connective tissues of muscles within the body cavity are weak and unable to hold the pelvis in its natural orientation.

In 1967 Helen underwent a procedure called a bladder tact to correct her urinary incontinence. The procedure lifts the bladder to its natural position, but as time passed the problem returned with more frequency than before.

During a recent visit with her primary care physician she discussed with her doctor the challenges she was having and she was referred to urologist Ted Brisson, MD, with Palmetto Adult and Children's Urology, where they discussed correcting the problem using the da Vinci Surgical Services robotic surgery. Dr. Brisson has the distinction of performing Trident Medical Center's first robotic surgery in 2008 and will be the surgeon for the hospital's 6,000th robotic procedure.

"Robotic surgery is the standard procedure for many problems affecting the pelvic floor," explained Dr. Brisson. "The benefits to the patient, compared to traditional surgery, include minimally invasive, less scaring, shorter hospital stay, reduced blood loss, less post-operative pain, small risk of infection, and a quicker recovery." Dr. Brisson says the recovery time for the procedure he'll perform on Mrs. Poole is four to six weeks. Helen said she's looking forward to being able to garden and exercise with her husband without the frequent interruptions she's experienced.

With da Vinci Surgical Systems the surgeon sits at a console while viewing a high-definition 3D image of the anatomy. The surgeon's fingers grasp the master controls with hands and wrists naturally positioned. Three or four robotic arms, which hold an endoscope (camera) and surgical instruments, carry out the surgeon's commands. da Vinci enables the surgeon to operate with enhanced vision, precision, and control.

The system seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrists and finger movements into precise, real-time movement of the surgical instruments positioned inside the patient's body. These instruments can bend and rotate far greater than both traditional laparoscopic instruments and the human wrist. Every surgical maneuver is under the direct control of the surgeon.

Dr. Brisson is among a group of physicians who pioneered the use of robotic surgery in the Lowcountry. He was instrumental in establishing Trident Health's South Carolina Institute of Robotic Surgery. Today, physicians at the Institute's Trident and Summerville Medical Center campuses perform more robotic surgeries than any other Lowcountry hospital.

"It's truly remarkable what our physician and surgical teams have accomplished. We have available three state-of-the-art da Vinci surgical suites across both hospitals and are able to perform a wide range of general surgery, gynecological, and urological procedures."

In 2016 surgeons at Trident Medical Center performed 733 robotic procedures. Among the firsts for the Trident Health's South Carolina Institute for Robotic Surgery are:

  • First in SC to perform a da Vinci Sacrocolpopexy
  • First in SC to perform a da Vinci Radical Hysterectomy for cervical cancer
  • First in SC to perform a da Vinci Single Port Nephrectomy
  • First in the Lowcountry to utilize the newest da Vinci technology
  • First and only hospital in the Lowcountry with two da Vinci Systems
  • First in the Lowcountry to use Intuitive Firefly Technology
  • First in the Lowcountry to perform various da Vinci Thoracic Procedures
  • First in Charleston to perform Single-Site Hysterectomy