Robotics is spread across our entire physician portfolio, so when we combine forces for multidisciplinary care, we can work together using the robotic platform to minimize incisions and to ensure patients have better outcomes."

Thomas Gavigan, MD, Novant Health General Surgeon in Charlotte

Surgery is becoming more precise, less invasive and safer — all while achieving better patient outcomes. One big reason: robotics. From 2012 to 2018 alone, the use of robotics in the U.S. rose by about 14%. The Charlotte market has contributed to that expansion — robotic surgery is now a mainstay at local Novant Health facilities.

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Dr. Stephen Butler

“Novant Health is proud of a long-established robotic program dedicated to safety, quality and patient experience affording leading-edge technology in our operating rooms,” said Stephen Butler, MD, Novant Health Surgical Institute physician leader. “Robotic surgery has permeated most specialties of surgery, including urology, OB-GYN, general, ENT, colorectal, thoracic and cardiovascular.”

Novant Health surgeons use robotics to achieve better outcomes, to ensure less postoperative pain and to enable quicker return to work and activities.

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Dr. Ilan Avin
Ilan Avin, MD, general surgeon at Novant Health, performs robotic general surgery and endocrine surgery in Charlotte.

“The robotics system allows me to do things that previously would have required a big open incision and longer recovery times,” Dr. Avin said. “Most of what I do robotically are hernia repairs as well as adrenalectomies and splenectomies.”

Novant Health specialists say patient experience improves dramatically with the use of robotics.

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Dr. Guillaume Chevrollier

“Robotic surgery allows us to perform major colon and rectal resections through small incisions,” said Guillaume Chevrollier, MD, colon and rectal surgeon at Novant Health. “This allows us to avoid large midline incisions seen with traditional open surgery, which translates to less postoperative pain, decreased narcotic use, faster recovery and decreased length of stay for our patients.”

“Coupled with evidence-based and highly effective enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathways, our robotic colorectal program has allowed our patients to enjoy reduced length of stay,” said Robert Stevens, MD, colon and rectal surgeon at Novant Health. “This allows our patients to return to their preoperative function and quality of life safely and efficiently.”

Robotic surgery provides for a high level of precision and safety.

“Where I’ve noticed the greatest difference is working in the pelvis, particularly in surgery for rectal cancer, where we work in a very narrow space with limited visualization,” said Dr. Chevrollier. “That space is surrounded by critical anatomic structures, where injuries can be devastating.”

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Dr. Robert Stevens

“Multiple studies have demonstrated an improved lymph node harvest and lower blood transfusion requirement with robotic ascending colectomy compared to laparoscopic,” said Dr. Stevens. “Both of these factors are directly correlated with an improved cancer outcome.”

Robotic surgery accomplishes a lot of the same techniques as open surgery while maximizing benefits of minimally invasive surgery.

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Dr. Thomas Gavigan

“With smaller incisions, patients not only have less postoperative pain, but they have fewer wound complications,” said Thomas Gavigan, MD. “Surgeons have been able to accomplish more operations that were historically perceived as complicated and exploratory. Compared to laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery brings in increased technology and, with that, better optics.”

“Along with 3D visualization, robotics offers much greater freedom to move surgical instruments without damaging physical structures,” said Dr. Avin.

The future of robotics intersects with Novant Health’s vision to expand access for patients, reducing healthcare disparities.

“With the implementation of robotics, Novant Health is opening the door to the next generation of expertise and knowledge-sharing. In the future, the technology may allow increased access to specialists who could consult remotely during a surgery,” Dr. Avin said.

“Novant Health is committed to a comprehensive and state of the art program of robotic surgery,” said Dr. Butler. “Robotics today is a steppingstone to more advanced technologies yet to come as laparoscopy ushered in robotic surgery 20 years ago. Robotic technology magnifies the skill and dexterity of the surgeon’s hands and technique.”

Patient-centered care remains at the heart of each treatment plan.

“We develop a genuine connection with patients,” Dr. Gavigan said. “I meet with the patient as soon as they’ve made an appointment. It’s important to have a direct surgeon-to-patient conversation to talk about the physiology of their condition, using illustrations, imaging and diagrams to describe what is going on with their body.

“We work through a treatment plan and how to best address the condition in a manner that is evidence-based and patient-based, working toward a surgery that is good for both the patient and the surgeon.”