Stephen Kitchen, M.D. Performs Region’s First Single-Incision Gallbladder Removal Surgery at Southeast Georgia Health System


The Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick Campus is the first hospital in the southeast Georgia region to offer single-incision cholecystectomy surgeries using the daVinci Robotic Surgery System®. The procedure was performed on December 16, 2013, by Stephen Kitchen, MD, FACS, a board-certified general surgeon, using a single incision through the belly button.

In the past month, Kitchen has performed several more single-incision cholecystectomy procedures, or removal of the gallbladder. Using the daVinci, the procedure is done in a single one-inch incision, rather than three to four small incisions, delivering virtually scarless results.

"We take great pride in our ability to deliver advanced, high quality care to our community," says Gary R. Colberg, FACHE, president & CEO, Southeast Georgia Health System. "Minimally invasive daVinci surgery offers patients better outcomes and we are excited to add this procedure to our robotic surgery program."

Kitchen, who has performed hundreds of single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomies at Southeast Georgia Health System, said he became interested in using the daVinci when the surgical platform that enables a single incision became available. Now, patients can experience the benefits of both single-incision surgery and those offered by the daVinci, which includes less post-operative pain, faster healing and almost no visible scar.

"For the patient, the primary advantage of single-incision cholecystectomy using the daVinci is a more gentle surgery because the instrumentation has been designed so that less pressure is applied to the tissue," explains Kitchen. "This translates to less pain at the incision site, and several patients have told me that their pain is so minimal that they are not filling their pain prescriptions."

For the surgeon, the daVinci also offers more dexterity of the surgical instruments and much better visualization of the surgical site. "The visualization that the 3D and HD technology provides is just incredible," Kitchen says.

In 2011, Southeast Georgia Health System became one of the first in the southeast Georgia region to acquire the daVinci Robotic Surgery System. Surgeons initially used daVinci for gynecological procedures, including hysterectomies; removal of fibroids, ovarian cysts and masses; treatment of pelvic organ prolapse; and some types of gynecologic cancer. In 2013, the program was broadened to include prostate and gallbladder procedures.

For more information about the daVinci Robotic Surgery System at Southeast Georgia Health System, visit