Newswise — Baltimore, MD - The Division of Robotic Surgery at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore has been designated a da Vinci® General Surgery Epicenter Program by Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the robotic system.

With this recognition, the Division of Robotic Surgery, under the leadership of Director Yassar Youssef, M.D., becomes one of fewer than 20 epicenters of this kind in the United States and the only one in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington DC. Currently more than 900 hospitals in the U.S. use 2,000 da Vinci® robots.

The robotic technology can be operated for a variety of minimally invasive procedures, giving physicians an alternative to both traditional surgery and conventional laparoscopy. In turn, this can lead to smaller incisions, less pain and scarring, less risk for blood loss and a shorter recovery time.

Becoming a center of excellence not only involves having exceptional clinical outcomes but dedicating time to train surgeons from around the country and the world on how to use the da Vinci® Surgical System.

“My aim, at the end of the day, is to help surgeons gain an in-depth understanding of the basics of robotic general surgery through live case observations, resident education and live interaction with the Sinai Robotics team,” said Youssef. “I consider it an honor to assist my colleagues with this educational information.”

In addition to operating with the da Vinci® for emergency procedures, the robotic team at Sinai also employs the system when cases fit the profile for elective procedures. Among the conditions that are treated at Sinai with robotic surgery are:

• Gallbladder removal – In most cases, this can be done with a scarless approach in which a single incision is made in a patient’s navel• Hernia repair• Colon resection (colectomy)• Bariatric (weight loss) surgery• Gynecologic procedures• Urologic procedures

Youssef is among the nation’s leading providers of SingleSite® robotic surgery, which is performed through one incision hidden in the belly button. Additionally to date, he has performed more than 200 SingleSite® gallbladder removal procedures using the da Vinci Surgical System with zero conversions.

Youssef is a board-certified general surgeon who has completed two fellowship trainings in minimally invasive surgery. He has extensive experience and skills in advanced laparoscopy, SILS (single incision laparoscopic surgery) and NOTES (natural orifice trans-luminal endoscopic surgery).

Sinai Hospital is part of LifeBridge Health, one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in northwest Baltimore. LifeBridge Health also includes Northwest Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Courtland Gardens Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit