Published on June 14, 2016

Orland Park Man Finds Relief After Complex Robotic Hernia Surgery

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

Orland Park Man
Pictured with Thomas Vasdekas, M.D. (right), is Orland Park resident John Jawor, who’s now pain free due to a robotic hernia procedure at the Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital. 

Years ago Orland Park resident John Jawor was diagnosed with a benign tumor on his pancreas. After the growth was surgically removed, scar tissue developed from the vertical incision and the abdominal tissue was weakened.  Over time, the weakened abdominal muscle tissue developed a tear that progressively enlarged and became painful.  Soon a lump became visible and grew in size larger than a walnut. At this point, Jawor sought the advice of his primary care doctor, who referred him to see general surgeon Dr. Thomas Vasdekas. Dr. Vasdekas determined that the best option to relieve Jawor’s discomfort was with a robotic hernia surgery at the Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital. More robotic surgeries are performed at Silver Cross than any other hospital or surgery center in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Jawor is now pain free and the hernia is no longer present. “I am so grateful to Dr. Vasdekas for repairing my hernia and the great nursing staff at Silver Cross for making my entire experience so pleasant,” said the 63-year old. “Dr. Vasdekas’ approachable demeanor and thorough knowledge of my problem made me feel confident that he was the right doctor to perform my robotic surgery. And not only was my recovery quick, I was able to return to work much sooner. My pain was eliminated and I am no longer self-conscious about anyone seeing my hernia sticking out of my abdomen because it is gone.” 

Thousands of hernia repairs are performed in the U.S. every year, making it one of the most common general surgical procedures performed. A hernia occurs when an organ or scar tissue pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. 

“In John’s case, his prior surgery made his abdomen wall weak causing scar tissue that eventually created a very large hernia, which was actually comprised of five small hernias,” said Dr. Thomas Vasdekas, board certified general surgeon on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “By completing the surgery using the da Vinci robot, a less invasive technique was used to insert a large piece of mesh to repair the incarcerated ventral incisional hernia. In addition, robotic surgery far surpasses any other surgical approach because it greatly enhances the surgeon’s ability to visualize tissue allowing for more flexibility to make repairs in tighter spaces.” 

This enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control of the robot allows physicians to perform an excellent surgery even for complex cases. “Robotic surgery offers complex cases, like John’s, many potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including minimal blood loss, less scarring, shorter hospital stay, low risk of complications, and a faster recovery,” said Dr. Vasdekas. 

How Robotic Surgery Works

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. Controlled by the surgeon at the console, the innovative robot is used to make 1 to 2 cm incisions and then long, delicate instruments are inserted into these incisions 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 robotic system cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions by itself,” said Dr. Vasdekas. “The da Vinci System requires that every surgical movement be performed with direct input from the surgeon.” 

Dr. Vasdekas is one of a small group of surgeons in the country who has received training to repair hernias with robotic surgery and one of several on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. He has performed over 500 surgeries using the da Vinci®robot surgical system. 

With one of the busiest robotic surgery programs in the Chicago area, Silver Cross Hospital has performed over 3,000 robotic procedures since the acquisition of the da Vinci Si Surgical System four years ago. Surgeons with the Midwest Institute of Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross use the robot to perform prostate and kidney, gynecologic, single-incision gallbladder and hysterectomy, and complex colorectal procedures. Now, with a third da Vinci robot, surgeons at Silver Cross Hospital perform the most advanced robotic-assisted surgery available today. For a referral to a surgeon who performs robotic surgery, visit  

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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.