For a patient, new advances in surgery are as exciting as they are intimidating. And when it comes to minimally invasive procedures, East Cooper Medical Center’s colorectal robotic surgery and the way it enhances a person’s recovery is the best choice in the eyes of Dr. Susan Knoche.
A board-certified colon and rectal surgeon and general surgeon at East Cooper, Dr. Knoche has a clinical interest in minimally invasive, robotic and laparoscopic approaches to treat colon and rectal cancer.
“Robotic surgery has the specific advantages of being able to do more in the abdomen with small incisions,” she said. “Laparoscopy’s biggest disadvantage is that you’re using straight sticks to operate and there’s no wristedness, so it’s harder for surgeons to do fine suturing deep in the pelvis.”
Robotic surgery, on the other hand, is made to operate in small, narrow, deep spaces, such as the pelvis, allowing surgeons to perform more complex operations with smaller incisions and, hence, produce faster recoveries.
“We do less traumatic dissection in the abdomen, so a patient recovers and returns to bowel function faster,” Dr. Knoche noted.
Other benefits of robotic colorectal surgery include an abbreviated hospital stay of one to three days, compared with four to seven days with traditional surgery. The need for narcotics also decreases with robotic surgery. In fact, Dr. Knoche noted she prescribes almost no narcotics following an operation. This is key not only in terms of abating potential addiction but for avoiding unnecessary sedation.
“Patients are getting up and moving faster, which means they are going back to their lives or work faster,” she added.
This doesn’t mean, however, that robotic colorectal surgery should be the only option. Dr. Knoche noted that it does have its drawbacks. For instance, robotic surgery takes a little more time in the operating room, which means a patient is under anesthesia longer. Additionally, surgeons can’t rely on their sense of touch to when performing robotic surgery, but advances with dyes and technology have significantly enhanced what they can see. With so many advantages far outweighing the cons, Dr. Knoche offers robotic surgery as the best choice for most of her patients.
Throughout her medical career, Dr. Knoche has developed a passion for working with cancer patients, helping them through their operations and the recovery process. Her love of anatomy and working with her hands brought her to medicine in general and surgery specifically.
“I wanted to be a missionary physician and work in the developing world,” she said. “As a surgeon, I’d be able to manage an array of problems, especially in rural areas where they don’t have immediate access to medicine.”
As she worked with colon and rectal cancer patients, she soon began to see how she was making a difference in so many lives.
“With cancer patients, you develop a longer relationship than you would for perhaps a hernia patient because you’re with them through the diagnosis, the recovery and then again through chemo,” Dr. Knoche said. “I also enjoy that there are real options to curing people. Colon and rectal cancers are preventable, treatable and curable, and being able to offer that hope to others, especially with robotic surgery, is exciting.”
For more information on Dr. Knoche and East Cooper Colorectal Surgery, visit www.eastcoopercolorectalsurgery.com or call 843-981-5007.
By Teri Errico Griffis