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“Robotic-assisted surgery is helping in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” says Dr. Cindy Geocaris of Surgical Associates of Neenah. “One of the hidden benefits of robotic-assisted surgery is not always needing narcotic medication post operatively. It is estimated that 20-30% of patients who are prescribed opioids will end up abusing them. About 5% of opioid users will transition to heroin. These are some scary statistics revolving around pain pills.”
In the Midwest alone, ER visits for opioid overdoses are up 70%. The pandemic has been a big contributor to opioid overdose. Unfortunately, prescriptions can be the source for these tragedies. Dr Geocaris applies strategies to avoid or limit narcotic use in her practice.
“Robotic-assisted surgery and attention to pain control can allow for surgeries to be done without narcotics,” says Dr. Geocaris. Another name for this program is “enhanced recovery after surgery” or ERAS. ERAS involves setting appropriate pre-operative expectations for patients and explaining in detail how to control pain post-operatively. The robot is a stable platform that has minimal stress on the abdominal wall. Many believe there is less pain with robotic-assisted surgery than traditional minimally invasive laparoscopy.
Next, oral medications are given in the pre-op area to block the three different types of pain receptors. Common medications used are Tylenol, Celebrex and Neurontin. Local anesthetic or a block is placed during surgery. After surgery, patients are given no narcotics or only a very small number of pain pills. They are asked to alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen for 48 hours after surgery.
“When this protocol is followed for outpatient robotic-assisted hernia repair, 70-90% of patients will not need to take any narcotic pills,” says Dr. Geocaris. The remainder of these patients may take less than 5 pills. These protocols are also followed for larger robotic-assisted surgeries that require an inpatient stay.
Reducing opioid use can have a huge impact on the opioid epidemic and also decrease side effects after surgery, such as constipation, nausea and dizziness.
Dr. Geocaris is one of the earliest adopters of robotic-assisted surgery. She began performing these types of surgeries in 2004. She has performed thousands of surgeries and teaches robotic-assisted surgery to other surgeons across the country. Robotic-assisted surgery offers the ability to perform complex surgeries in a minimally invasive fashion using small incisions. Often these procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis.
If you are in need of surgery contact the surgeons at Surgical Associates of Neenah. Our surgeons are trained in robotic-assisted surgery which offers our patients reduced recovery time, smaller scaring, and shorter hospital stays. Our surgeons also lead the area’s highest level trauma center. You do not need a referral to contact our surgeons. Please click on the links in this article to learn more how we can help you.