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DENVER — Preparing for his second hernia surgery in six months, Rick Wilhoit knew that he had to have a much shorter recovery the second time around.

“We had a tight window,” Wilhoit, owner and head trainer of LFT Fitness in Littleton said. “I needed to be ready and active to train within about a four week period.”

Rick was barely walking four weeks after his first hernia surgery, so he opted to try the robotic procedure. And after four weeks – he was back to training.

“It allowed me to not have to put my life on hold and get back into the saddle as quick as possible and actually feel better than I did before,” Wilhoit said.

All thanks to the new robot at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. There’s a cockpit for the surgeon and the robot, named Da Vinci, does the rest of the work.

“It’s almost like your head and your hands are inside the abdomen and that’s just an amazing way to do surgery,” said Dr. Anthony Canfield, medical director of robotic surgery at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital.

The technology allows the surgeon to operate much more precisely, and uses only small incisions.

“The main thing is you can do the same surgery you can with other methods but it’s less painful and the return to work and recovery is a lot quicker,” Dr. Canfield said.

95% of general surgery can be done robotically, and it’s quickly becoming more popular throughout the country.

“I think we’re expanding the abilities that we have,” Dr. Canfield said. “The robotic company has made some great advances but the current technology is just amazing.”