Published on January 03, 2018

Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross #1 in Chicago area for surgeries performed

For three years, Kankakee resident Teloa Smith wasn’t able to fully enjoy life because she was so stressed trying to make it to the bathroom in time to avoid an accident. Smith, like millions of women in the United States, was silently trying to cope with her constant incontinence. Things began to worsen as she could feel a bulging tissue come out of her vagina, which was causing her to frequently urinate. In addition, her incontinence episodes would get worse any time she bent over. Fortunately, she found incredible relief after undergoing four robotic surgeries at the same time on May 22, 2017, at The Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Silver Cross was one of the first hospitals in the entire Midwest where skilled surgeons use the robotic surgical system to perform single-site robotic surgeries with virtually scarless results.

“My advice to other women who are experiencing the same symptoms as I did, is to not wait another minute to have surgery,” said the 69-year-old factory worker. “Make an appointment to see Dr. Merhi today. She is an angel! She is a highly skilled surgeon with an awesome bedside manner.”

Photo Caption: Pictured are Dr. Nahla Merhi, (right) urogynecologist, and Kankakee resident Teloa Smith, (left) whose quality of life was greatly improved after undergoing four robotic procedures at the same time at The Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital.

Surgeons from around the country come to Silver Cross to observe Dr. Nahla Merhi perform complex surgeries, like Teloa’s, with the assistance of the daVinci robotic surgical system. Dr. Merhi is the only doctor in Will County to perform Single-Site™ robotic hysterectomies and is one of the highest volume robotic single-site hysterectomy surgeons in the state of Illinois.

So after discussing Smith’s options with her, Dr. Merhi performed multiple robotic surgeries including a Single-Site Robotic Hysterectomy®, a bladder lift with a sling, an uterosacral ligament suspension, and a cystocele repair all to stop Smith’s incontinence and prolapse issues.

“Teloa’s amazing recovery is due to the advances in robotic single-site surgery,” said Dr. Merhi, who is also the Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Silver Cross Hospital. “Thanks to the enhanced vision, precision, and dexterity that are gained by using the robot, I was able to successfully perform multiple, very complex surgeries at the same time for Teloa to have a quicker recovery.”

Benefits to Robotic Gynecological Surgery

“I only made a few incisions through Teloa’s belly button and abdomen, so she could get back to life faster without the usual recovery following major surgery,” said Dr. Merhi, who has performed more than 850 robotic surgeries and more than 500 single-site hysterectomies. “In addition, there are many potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including minimal blood loss, less scarring, shorter hospital stay, low risk of complications, and a faster recovery!”

“Even though Dr. Merhi said my case was complex, I was amazed how I never felt any pain after my surgeries,” Smith said. “In fact, I was feeling so good, I was more apt to do too much too soon because I felt so good. Honestly, I had more discomfort when I had a colonoscopy than when I had these multiple robotic surgeries!”

How Does it Work?

Controlled by a surgeon from a console, the innovative da Vinci robot is used to make 8mm (`1/3 inch) to 12 mm (~ 1/2 inch) incisions and then long, delicate instruments are inserted into the patient that enable specially trained physicians to perform the surgery.

Interestingly, misconceptions still exist that the robot is actually performing the surgery all by itself. “The important aspect to understand is that the da Vinci robotic system cannot be programmed nor can it make decisions by itself,” said Dr. Nahla Merhi. “The da Vinci System can only operate with direct input from the surgeon.”

During the procedure, the surgeon sits comfortably at a console, viewing a 3D, high-definition image of the patient’s anatomy. The surgeon uses controls below the viewer to move the instrument arms and camera. In real-time, the system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into more precise movements of the miniaturized instruments inside the patient.

To learn more about robotic surgery, visit

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.