Dr. Stephen Szabo, an OB/GYN with Pinehurst Surgical Clinic (PSC), reached a milestone on Thursday, Sept. 19 with his 805th robotic surgery — a hysterectomy with sacrocolpopexy and bladder suspension.
Dr. Szabo first performed a robotically-assisted surgery in 2006 after coming to Pinehurst Surgical in 1998. He and Pinehurst Surgical Urologists Dr. Robert Chamberlain and Dr. Greg Griewe, along with Dr. Walter Fasolak, from FirstHealth’s Southern Pines Women’s Center, formed the core group of physicians who spearheaded the introduction of robotic surgery in Moore County.
With 805 surgeries complete, Dr. Szabo is now in the company of an elite and distinguished group of surgeons practicing the art of robotic-assisted healthcare. The minimally invasive approach means that advanced gynecologic surgeries, which would have resulted in a three-to-five-day hospital stay, now only require a stay of three to five hours — and carry a reduced risk of complications or infection. Patients are able to recover at home with pain that can be managed by over-the-counter medication.
In total, Dr. Szabo has performed 606 benign hysterectomies, 102 sacrocolpopexies, 32 single site hysterectomies, 22 myomectomies, and 42 other GYN procedures; including endometriosis resection, ovarian cystectomies, salpingo-oophorectomies, and retroperitoneal dissections for early Gynecologic Malignancies, all on the DaVinci Robot.
While the DaVinci is able to assist in these procedures, its microsurgical instruments must be controlled by a skilled surgeon. Dr. Szabo directs these instruments through half-inch incisions in the abdomen via hand and foot controls at a console with a 3-D screen. Surgical assistants sit at the patient’s side until the surgery is complete.
The DaVinci robot was developed in 1995, and today is credited with more than six million surgeries worldwide. Dr. Szabo’s DaVinci training started with a detailed didactic course followed by simulation labs and robotic labs. Proctoring by an experienced robotic surgeon from Duke University followed. In subsequent years, Dr. Szabo has participated in multiple advanced training, specialty procedure training and master’s level course reserved for a select few Da Vinci physicians.
Dr. Szabo has also served as a proctor and trainer for a half dozen DaVinci Gynecologic Surgeons who have learned or advanced their robotic surgery skills at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. In addition to Dr. Szabo’s excellence in robotics, he also has a practice emphasis in general gynecology and obstetrics, postmenopausal wellness, high-risk obstetrics, infertility, and endometriosis. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, and did both his internship and residency at the Navy Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA. He is one of the senior physicians within the PSC group and is one of only five GYN surgeons in the area to achieve robotics certification.