Surgeon offering new gallbladder surgery

Higdon Wilham

Mercy Health general surgeon Dr. Alice Higdon Wilham has added another robotic surgery to her expanding skill set.

Starting this month, Higdon Wilham offers single-site cholecystectomies for Mercy Health patients in Paducah that reduce the number of incisions required during gallbladder removal. The procedure allows for its removal through a small incision in the belly button and leaves a less visible scar.

"It allows you to hide the scar for the surgery, so you don't end up with four scars on your abdomen," she said. "You only have one site that has pain. You don't have four different places that hurt."

The Graves County native practices at Mercy Health-Paducah General Surgery and performed Mercy Health Lourdes Hospital's first robotic general surgery case in late 2018. She has since performed more than 30 robotic general surgeries, such as different types of hernia repairs.

Mercy Health Lourdes features the "most advanced version" of the system used in the robotic surgery, da Vinci Surgical System's Generation X model. The da Vinci system is described to be "sophisticated" and it's designed to expand a surgeon's capabilities, giving them and patients a more minimally invasive option, according to Mercy Health.

"We began by performing hysterectomies with our da Vinci robot," Michael Yungmann, CEO of Mercy Health Lourdes, said in a news release. "We have since expanded our robotic surgery offerings to include everything from urology to hernia repair."

Higdon Wilham said she recently completed a program in Atlanta where she trained for the single-site cholecystectomy. She loves anything "exciting and innovative" and looks forward to training for robotic colon surgery later this year.

"I think it's going to be great."

However, she said single-site cholecystectomy isn't suited for everyone, including people with gallbladder inflammation or cholecystitis. The requirements to get the surgery are having a body mass index of less than 30 and no previous abdominal operations.

"These are for people who have chronic problems with stones or decreased ejection fraction, where their gallbladder is just not working very well," she said. "Because they don't tend to be so inflamed and enlarged. Those, to my knowledge, typically should come out through that incision without a problem."

Mercy Health-Paducah General Surgery is accepting new patients and may be contacted at 270-442-9463.

It is located at Marshall Nemer Medical Office Building, 1532 Lone Oak Road, Suite 235.

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