By Conner Ingalls- WPDE ABC 15 News
FLORENCE, S.C. (WPDE) – Bob Peddycord is, unfortunately, no stranger to hernias. He had his first surgery to repair one in the 1980’s. “Just to tell it like it is, that’s probably the most lengthy, painful recovery time that I’ve ever had after any surgery,” Peddycord said. “Had to take three weeks off, really felt like I should’ve taken a fourth week off before I went back.” That’s what makes the procedure he had done earlier this year so remarkable. Peddycord is one of the first few dozen patients able to have a hernia repaired with the help of robot surgery at Conway Medical Center. “I can’t imagine how quick I was back up and running at full speed,” Peddycord said.
Dr. Aaron Epstein is a general surgeon at CMC. He is also no stranger to hernias. “I fix probably close to 300 hernias a year,” Dr. Epstein said. He says patients can’t wrap their heads around what this new technology is capable of. “Some of them are actually not even believing they had surgery,” Dr. Epstein said. “It’s like I can’t even believe you fixed this and it’s gone.”
You can understand why patients are having a hard time believing it. The process sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. “Basically our forearms, our wrists, and our fingers are placed into a device,” Dr. Epstein said. “When I move my fingers, the robot fingers move, when I move my wrist, the robot wrist moves, when I move my arms, the robot arms move.” But Dr. Epstein says it’s also very much the real deal. The robots allow him a better vantage point than he’s ever had to perform surgery. “With the robot procedure we’re able to go in through teeny little flank incisions and fix these hernias minimally invasively,” Dr. Epstein said. “So imagine my little hands miniaturized through teeny holes and then put in your belly with a camera, and then my teeny hands go in there and fix things through these little holes.”
As cool as the tech is, the best part is what it allows for patients after surgery. Dr. Esptein says operations that used to result in weeks of recovery are now seeing patients get back on their feet in no time. “The amount of discomfort is far less with the robotic procedure,” Dr. Epstein said. “Now I’m able to go in with the robot, fix these hernias, and send my patients home with just non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, in other words non-narcotic drugs, and they’re up and moving around the very next day.”
Peddycord’s a testament to that. You remember him talking about weeks of pain after his first hernia? Things were a lot different after his second. “Took three days off after the surgery before I went back to work,” Peddycord said. “And really felt like I could’ve gone back after two days…it’s just amazing stuff.”
Of course, Dr. Epstein stresses all hernias are different, and recovery times will always vary. But there’s no disputing this technology is creating a host of new possibilities for hernia patients.