« Healthcare Highlights SILS procedure for less pain, quicker recovery SILS for Gallbladder Removal Cassandra Todd was in her last week of classes before finals. Her web design program at Westmoreland County Community College in Greensburg, Pa., was wrapping up, and even though she planned to continue school through the summer, she was looking forward to the end of the semester. Then toward the end of the week, she felt sharp pains in her right side. Cassandra had felt pain in her side before, but it always went away, so she didn’t worry about it too much. Like those other times in the past, the pain subsided in the evening. But then the next morning it came back – and was worse, much worse. This time the pain was strong enough to cause her to pull off the road on her way to school and be sick. The timing was terrible. Cassandra was so worried about missing any classes or her finals. She also knew that she couldn’t take this kind of pain. She would have to do something about whatever was hurting so badly. Cassandra came to Ruby Memorial Hospital’s emergency department over the weekend. An examination showed that she might be having gallbladder problems, but since there was no sign of inflammation, she went back home. Her concern about school and finishing the work that was due made her want to ignore the problem as much as possible. It wasn’t long, though, until Cassandra was again in terrible pain and vomiting if she ate anything at all. She returned to Ruby Memorial’s ER where she underwent some tests to determine the condition of her gallbladder. Cassandra learned that she had a two-centimeter gallstone. Ronald Matteotti, MD, the surgeon on duty and Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery, told Cassandra that she has an acute infection of her gallbladder and that she would need to have her gallbladder removed. She was in so much pain that she just said, “Good. Take it out! “I suffer from migraine headaches,” Cassandra said, “and I’d much rather have 10 migraine headaches than I would gallbladder pain. I’ve never been in so much pain in my life.” Cassandra was scheduled to have her gallbladder removed that afternoon. Dr. Matteotti specializes in a type of minimally invasive surgery called single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS). SILS is an advanced laparoscopic technique employing a device through a small opening in the belly button to provide access for the surgeon’s instruments, in this case, to the gallbladder. The procedure only takes about 45 minutes, and within a couple of hours from the time she went into the operating room, Cassandra was awake and much relieved. She spent that night at Ruby, just to make sure that she was able to hold down food and get around all right. Cassandra said the biggest surprise was how little pain she felt following the surgery. “I knew as soon as they got it out that I’d feel better,” she said. “Dr. Matteotti was really great. He’s a good surgeon. I was very surprised that I wasn’t in much more pain.” Two weeks after the surgery, Cassandra was close to feeling back to her old self. Her incision is very small, about half an inch and hidden so there will be almost no scar. “You can’t even see it if you’re not looking for it,” she said.