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The patient who underwent the first robotic abdominal cerclage procedure in Central Texas recently delivered a healthy baby girl. An abdominal cerclage procedure is performed to hold the cervix closed to allow for a baby to fully develop in utero before leaving the womb. This is done when other procedures to close the cervix have failed.

Surgeons at the Texas Institute for Robotic Surgery (TIRS), located at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, performed the procedure last August.

Traditionally, an abdominal cerclage procedure involves a laparotomy—a large incision through the abdominal wall, which is higher risk and requires a longer recovery period. However, with advancements in robotic technology, the procedure can be done laparoscopically, which requires minor incisions and results in a shorter recovery period.

Melissa Hernandez, the patient who underwent the first procedure in Central Texas had suffered two miscarriages due to an insufficient cervix—a medical condition in which the cervix begins to widen and thin before the pregnancy has reached term.

Hernandez was advised by specialists at Austin Maternal Fetal Medicine at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center to consider an abdominal cerclage. Dr. Devin Garza consulted on the feasibility of performing the procedure through a non-traditional, minimally invasive approach. Shortly after, Dr. Garza performed the procedure laparoscopically, using the da Vinci Surgical System at TIRS; Dr. Kimberley DeStefano provided an intraoperative consult on the surgery.

The procedure took less than an hour and required only a few small incisions. Hernandez went home the same day and returned to work within a few days.

Today, Hernandez and her baby girl are back at home and doing well.

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