Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 10:22 pm | Fair 66º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Robotic Surgery for Cancer Enters a New Age — for Patients, Prognosis

Ann Granaroli
(Cottage Health photo)


It’s a dreaded word to hear from your doctor ... cancer. Ann Granaroli never suspected it could happen to her. After all, she was only 58 years old and in good health.

It started with a visit to the office of her ob-gyn, Dr. Heather Terbell, where an ultrasound revealed a uterine fibroid. Fibroids are very common, not normally a cause for concern — and rarely cancerous. In fact, there’s not a known link between them and other types of cancer. Terbell took a biopsy, and Granaroli had the results the next day.

The news was scary. Granaroli had endometrial cancer. She needed surgery, a total hysterectomy. Her fears were compounded with memories of the lengthy recovery time, pain and scarring her mother had experienced years ago after a hysterectomy.

Fortunately, advances in technology and medicine have opened new possibilities.

Terbell referred Granaroli to Dr. Anne Rodriguez, a gynecologic oncologist on Cottage Health’s medical staff and chairwoman of the Cottage Robotic Surgery Center.

Rodriguez performed a minimally invasive total hysterectomy using the advanced robotic technology at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

During the procedure, she also performed a sentinel node biopsy to determine whether cancer had spread into the lymphatic system. Fortunately, the cancer was removed at an early stage and Granaroli did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

“Robotic surgery has dramatically changed patients’ experience and recovery,” Rodriguez said. “The pace of innovation in robotics has accelerated rapidly over the past few years.”

Laparoscopic robotic surgery is often used for hysterectomy, uterine fibroid removal and prostate removal. It’s also an option for kidney removal, gallbladder removal, colectomy and other general surgeries.

The minimally invasive option typically offers patients:

» A shorter hospital stay

» Less blood loss

» Fewer complications

» Less pain

» A faster recovery

“I stayed at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital just one night, and the next day I went home,” Granaroli said. “It was a blessing to have Dr. Rodriguez and the nurses were angels. I was apprehensive at first but I had nothing to fear.”

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