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Minimally-invasive gallbladder surgery helps patients recover

Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital using da Vinci surgery to treat gallbladder disease

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Doctors at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital offer a minimally-invasive surgery to help teenagers and children with gallbladder disease recover more quickly.

A few months ago, Lily Pulido's playfulness vanished.

"I got a really sharp pain on the top of my stomach," Pulido said. "Excruciating pain, I couldn't stand up straight or anything."

What doctors first thought was gastritis turned out to be gallstones, though gallbladder problems aren't typical in teens. Doctors say poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity can lead to gallbladder problems.

"The more we continue this way of life -- no exercise, more processed food -- we're going to have more gallbladder problems," said Dr. Fuad Alkhoury with Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. 

Doctors at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital use the da Vinci robot, which allows doctors to operate through one small incision rather than the typical four and to see everything as if it were an open surgical procedure.

"Actually, when you're looking into the camera with the da Vinci, you're basically seeing it in 3D like you're going to an IMAX 3D movie or something," Alkhoury said. "So, you're seeing a much finer level of detail than you were seeing with a regular laparoscopy."

With one incision, Pulido barely showed any evidence of surgery. She was back playing with her younger sister within a few weeks.

"No scars, no anything," Pulido said. "I actually look at my belly button and you can't even tell at all."

While the surgery isn't necessarily quicker for the patient, recovery time can be greatly increased and the need for narcotic pain medications reduced or eliminated all together.