BECKLEY, W.Va. — Raleigh General Hospital is celebrating the accomplishments of one of its physicians — Dr. Scott Killmer — who now has successfully completed 500 robotic surgeries.

Dr. Killmer, a general surgeon practicing in the area since 1996, estimates he’s performed the 500 surgeries over the past three to four years.

The majority of the surgeries have been gall bladder, appendix, hernia and colon-related. All have either been conducted at Raleigh General Hospital, Bluefield Regional Medical Center or Plateau Medical Center.

“Robotic surgery makes difficult surgeries easier,” Killmer said.

Patients can experience many benefits from robotic surgeries, Killmer noted, including smaller incisions and faster recovery times.

“The robot connects to all the tools at the table, and the surgeon controls all the tools at the table instead of just his two,” Killmer explained. “I’m 5 feet away from the patient at a console where I use the controls.”

The robotic instruments have an extra dimension of movement, which allows for sewing inside the stomach.

With the minimally invasive techniques, recovery time is usually a matter of days instead of weeks.

“This cuts in half the time frame they can get back to their normal activities,” Killmer said.

He said he first had to complete an online training seminar to learn about the robot, then pass a test about the mechanics. He then spent several hours in a training module, where he operated on an inanimate object.

His training continued in Ohio where he observed another surgeon in action. The next step was to train on cadavers.

For his first real-life robotic surgery, a proctor observed him to ensure everything went smoothly. Killmer is also accompanied during the surgeries by a team of trained professionals.

“Throughout my career, whenever I see changes coming, I try to embrace them,” Killmer said. “It’s undoubtedly an advantage.”

The Hurricane native estimates he’s performed 25,000 surgeries in total since the start of his career in 1996. He said he now utilizes the robot for roughly 50 percent of his surgeries.

Killmer completed undergraduate and medical school at West Virginia University. He completed his clinicals and his residency in general surgery at Charleston Area Medical Center.

When he’s not performing surgery, Killmer likes to spend time outdoors, especially kayaking.

Dr. Killmer’s office is located at 1717 Harper Road in the Raleigh General Complex.

Information from: The Register-Herald,