Minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) has revolutionized the treatment of many abnormalities of the chest, including lung cancer. During VATS, a thoracic surgeon operates within two to four small incisions, called ports, made between the patient’s ribs instead of within a large traditional chest incision on the patient’s side/back that requires splitting the ribs. After VATS, the patient experiences less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker return to work and other activities.
Robotic thoracic surgery takes VATS several steps further. At The Valley Hospital, thoracic surgeon Benjamin Lee, M.D., uses the robotic da Vinci® Surgical System to perform a variety of procedures, including the removal of complex lung, mediastinal, and esophageal tumors. In the past, the removal of many of these difficult tumors would have had to be performed through a large chest incision. Instead, the da Vinci robot now offers a gentler, more precise approach to these surgeries. The robot’s high-definition fiberoptics and ergonomic maneuverability of the instruments provide Dr. Lee with exceptional magnification of the surgical site and flexibility that not even human hands can accomplish. The robot’s precise suturing results in less pain and blood loss and a reduced risk of infection.
A Four-Armed Approach
Many tumors of the thoracic (chest) area and lung lobes can be removed using traditional VATS. However, some patients with complicated benign and cancerous tumors of the lungs, esophagus, and mediastinum (the area between the lungs) benefit from the added precision of the da Vinci robot.
During robotic thoracic surgery, Dr. Lee sits at a console within the operating suite. The patient lies on a table several feet away. Using an instrument that resembles a joystick, Dr. Lee controls the robot’s four arms and tiny camera, which have been positioned within small ports between the ribs for lung and mediastinal tumors or in the upper abdomen for esophageal tumors. While watching a magnified view of the surgical site on a monitor within the console, Dr. Lee uses the joystick to move the robot’s instruments, perform the surgery, and then close up the incisions with intricate sutures. The patient is monitored on the operating room table at all times by Dr. Lee and Valley’s minimally invasive surgical team.
Dr. Lee has been performing VATS and robotic thoracic surgery for the past 10 years. “Patients usually stay overnight and return to their regular activities within a week or two,” he says, “instead of the six weeks or more of recovery time that is required with traditional open-chest surgery. Because of the short recuperation period associated with robotic thoracic surgery, patients who require further cancer treatment can begin it more quickly.”
For More Information
To find out if robotic thoracic surgery may be right for you, call 201-634-5538.
The Valley Hospital Lung Cancer Center
Many patients who undergo robotic thoracic surgery to treat lung cancer benefit from the comprehensive services of The Valley Hospital Lung Cancer Center at the Daniel & Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center. Services include:
- complete diagnostic services, including navigational bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)-guided biopsy, transthoracic needle biopsy, VATS-guided biopsy, and personalized mutational analysis of lung cancers
- VATS, single-port VATS, and robotic thoracic surgery
- clinical trials to test new medications and treatment protocols
- I-ELCAP, the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program to detect early lung cancers
- radiation therapy, including TomoTherapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy, and respiratory gating for precision
- integrative healing services
- supportive care, including nutrition counseling, social services, pastoral care, support groups, and smoking cessation
For more information about the Lung Cancer Center, click here or call 201-634-5538.