Lifewatch: Robots perform surgery

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

**Warning: video contains graphic images

(WECT) - Doctors in the United States are breaking new ground by removing large tumors with the help of robots.

Mick Jones had a non-cancerous tumor wrapping itself around his esophagus, making it almost impossible to eat, but now he's healed thanks to robots.

Cameras were inside the operating room when doctors first attempted to remove this type of tumor with a robot.

Five small incisions were made, connecting the machine outside to robotic hands inside.

"We passed a suture through the middle of the tumor twice and used that suture for leverage against the tumor," said Dr. Miguel Gomez.

Once the tumor was loose, a net-like device was inserted to pull it out.

"We initially thought the tumor would be 5 centimeters in size, but it turned out to be 10 centimeters in size," said Dr. Gomez.

Traditional surgery would involve a large incision of 8-10 inches between the ribs, dividing muscles and spreading the rib cage to get to the tumor.  With the robot assisted surgery, just five tiny incisions, no muscle cutting or rib splitting - taking recovery from two months to just two weeks.

There's a small risk the robot will malfunction, but Dr. Gomez has never had that happen to him.  Surgeons are prepared to leave the robot and do traditional hands-on surgery at any time.

For more information, please contact:
Miguel Gomez, M.D.
Office: (713) 973-7222

BACKGROUND: One of the newest developments in minimally invasive surgery is robot-assisted surgery. The da Vinci surgical robot, first approved by the FDA for use in surgery in 2000, has become increasingly popular throughout the last decade as an option for avoiding traditional open surgeries, especially surgeries involving the abdomen. During procedures using the da Vinci robot, the surgeon sits at a console outside of the operating room and views an image of the surgery site that is collected from a high definition 3-D camera. Surgeons introduce the camera and miniature surgical instruments through several small incisions and then perform the procedure from the console. The surgeon moves the instruments remotely with his hands by using rings. The da Vinci surgical robot can't be programmed or make decision on its own. Instead, a surgeon controls every maneuver the robot performs.

THE FUTURE OF SURGERY? Since the da Vinci robot was first cleared for use in laparoscopic abdominal procedures like gallbladder removal and treatment of severe heartburn, it has been adopted by doctors for use in increasingly complex procedures. The robot was cleared in 2001 for use during prostatectomies, and this remains one of its most common uses. The system can now be used in a variety of procedures including cardiothoracic surgeries to treat mitral valve prolapse, atrial septal defect and coronary artery disease; gynecologic surgeries like hysterectomies and treatment of uterine fibroids; treatment of bladder cancer and kidney disorders; bariatric surgeries; and lung surgeries.

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