Robotic Thoracic Surgery

How Robotic Thoracic Surgery Is Performed

Robotic surgery is performed in a specially designed robotic surgery suite consisting of a surgeon console with hand and foot controls, and a 3-D HD viewer, a movable patient cart with robotic arms, and a vision cart that displays 3-D magnified color images.

The surgeon controls all movements of the robot. Attached at the wrist, the robot's instruments move in tandem with the surgeon's hands, providing unparalleled dexterity, precision and control.

During a typical robotic surgery:

  • The patient, who is asleep under general anesthesia, is positioned on a movable cart about 10 feet from the surgeon console.
  • The surgeon makes several tiny incisions through which the operation is conducted.
  • Robotic arms, fully controlled by the surgeon, then pass a camera and surgical instruments through the incisions to enable the surgeon to see inside the patient and perform the procedure.
  • At the conclusion of the surgery, the tumor and other tissue, along with the surgical instruments, are removed through one of the incisions.

Advantages of Robotic Thoracic Surgery

While an open surgical approach or video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) may still be the appropriate choice for some patients depending on specific circumstances, robotic surgery offers several advantages:

  • Enhanced vision, with a 3-D magnified view
  • More precision
  • Improved fine motor movements through the use of wristed instruments

Robotic technology provides the surgeon with tools to perform delicate, minimally invasive surgical procedures in tight angles and confined spaces, with few limitations. For example, it allows surgeons to more easily perform dissections and lymph node removal.

Our surgeons have a deep understanding of and extensive experience with all thoracic surgical approaches and will recommend the best choice for each patient based on the patient’s individual needs.

How Robotic Surgery Benefits Patients

The da Vinci Xi robotic system offers numerous benefits for patients compared to traditional surgical approaches:

  • Very small incisions: Robotic surgery is performed through tiny incisions, resulting in less scarring and a faster recovery from surgery.
  • Less blood loss: Because robotic surgery is a more technically precise surgery, patients typically have less blood loss and are less likely to need a blood transfusion.
  • Less post-operative pain: The chest wall is a very sensitive area, and surgery can easily irritate these nerves. Incisions used in robotic thoracic surgery are made in the lower part of the chest, where space between the ribs is greatest. This can greatly lessen pain following surgery.
  • Shorter hospital stay: Robotic surgery can reduce the length of the post-surgery hospital stay. In some cases, patients are discharged in just one or two days after robotic thoracic surgery.
  • More precise assessment of lymph node involvement and operative staging: The da Vinci Xi allows for a more thorough dissection of lymph nodes, which can be used to "stage," or determine the extent of, cancer. This information is critical for guiding treatment decisions.
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