South Texas Health System Heart Celebrates 100th Robotic Surgery Milestone

Friday, February 23, 2024
Doctor performing robotic surgery

Since its launch in 1996 as one of the first freestanding heart hospitals in the United States, South Texas Health System Heart has provided innovative solutions to improve the overall patient experience. But the facility’s dedication to quality, compassionate care goes beyond the cardiovascular.

STHS Heart is equipped with a full-service emergency department and a surgery center where surgeons perform general, cardiovascular and bariatric surgical procedures. In June 2023, the facility expanded those services to include robot-assisted surgery.

Now, just six months after launching its robotics program, STHS Heart is celebrating a special milestone… the completion of its 100th robotic surgery using the da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System in late December 2023.

The da Vinci Xi is a highly advanced, computer-assisted surgical system that enhances capabilities beyond a surgeon’s eyes and hands, allowing them to “see” inside the body and be more meticulous during surgery. This results in less invasive procedures with a shorter recovery time.

Since acquiring the system, surgeons at STHS Heart have performed bariatric procedures such as sleeve gastrectomies and gastric bypasses, as well as general surgeries like hernia repairs, cholecystectomies and colon surgeries.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Services

For more information about the minimally invasive surgical services available at STHS Heart, visit us online or call 956-994-2000.

Performed by STHS Clinics physician Bob H. Saggi, MD, a Surgical Review Corporation-accredited Surgeon of Excellence, the 100th robot-assisted surgery was a cholecystectomy, a procedure to remove the gallbladder. It’s one of the most common procedures in the United States, with more than 1.2 million cholecystectomies performed annually, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine.

The journey to the first 100 robotic surgeries began in the summer of 2023 when Dr. Ernesto Garza, MD, made history by performing the first procedure using the minimally invasive robotic system at STHS Heart.

The da Vinci Xi enables surgeons to operate on a patient via one or more small incisions, typically less than or equal to one centimeter long, as opposed to the large incisions that may be required in traditional surgery. Equipped with four thin robotic arms, which have a wider range of motion than the human hand, the system offers a magnified, 3D view of the surgical site and helps surgeons operate with precision, flexibility and control.

“South Texas Health System Heart is committed to ensuring residents in McAllen and the surrounding communities have access to the cutting-edge technology at our facility,” said Brenda Ivory, CEO, STHS Heart. “We’re proud to offer our patients close-to-home advanced surgical options, including minimally invasive procedures, that allow them to get back to their everyday lives as quickly as possible.”

“Our investment in advanced technologies and continued training programs to train our staff on best practices involving those technologies empowers our physicians and clinical staff to deliver the best outcomes possible for our patients,” Ivory added. “The continued growth of our recently launched robotic program serves as a testament that we’re working to provide the highest level of quality, compassionate care to our patients at STHS Heart.”

STHS Heart’s da Vinci Xi system is the third of its kind at South Texas Health System. In 2015, STHS Edinburg became the first medical facility south of San Antonio to use the da Vinci Xi system and later acquired its second da Vinci Xi in February 2021.

In May 2023, Dr. Sandra Esquivel, MD, performed her thousandth minimally invasive robotic surgery using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System at STHS Edinburg.


Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if robotic surgery is right for you.