Mercy Clinic Women’s Health

100 Mercy Way, Suite 510




Da Vinci Robotic Surgery Revolutionizing Women’s Health


Technological advancements in medicine are transforming surgeries that once required a three-day hospital stay into outpatient procedures – perhaps none so much as the Intuitive Da Vinci robot.


This state-of-the-art robot allows surgeons to perform laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery through small incisions, usually .5 to 1.5 centimeters long.


Dr. Heath Merkley, MD, FACOG, is a women’s health physician and expert Da Vinci surgeon. The robot has been revolutionary in the way surgeons like Dr. Merkley perform hysterectomies, removal of ovarian cysts and removal of ovaries.


“The robot allows you to do microscopic surgery much more easily,” Dr. Merkley said. “It allows for quicker recovery for patients, and for experienced surgeons, shorter operating times. It has also transformed hysterectomies into an outpatient surgery – 95 percent of our patients go home the same day.”


He said the Da Vinci robot makes surgery more precise in that it has a three-dimensional stereoscopic viewer, where traditional laparoscopic surgery is done with a two-dimensional view. The instruments mimic 1-to-1 wrist action so they have a broader range of motion than other surgical instruments.


Dr. Merkley and his partner, Dr. Jeffrey Manley, perform, on average, two surgeries per week using the Da Vinci robot, making them the most experienced robotic surgeons in the region. In fact, Dr. Merkley has performed more than 400 Da Vinci surgeries in his career. By the time he left residency at Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine, he was the most experienced robotic surgeon resident in the country.


Technological advancements are increasingly important, but some things about being a great physician never change.


“Being a great physician, to me, means being a sympathetic listener and having patience,” he said. “It’s my mission to ease the pain and suffering of my patients in any way that I can, and with the robot, I am able to do that much faster.”