North Florida’s First Robot-Assisted Lung Lobectomy Performed at Orange Park Medical Center | Business

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North Florida’s First Robot-Assisted Lung Lobectomy Performed at Orange Park Medical Center
Business, Health
North Florida’s First Robot-Assisted Lung Lobectomy Performed at Orange Park Medical Center

Yesterday a surgical team at Orange Park Medical Center, led by cardiothoracic surgeon Nathan Bates, M.D., became the first in North Florida and South Georgia to perform a procedure called a lung lobectomy with robotic assistance. A lobectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove part of a patient’s lung because of lung cancer.

Robot-assisted surgery is not new, however, using the robot for thoracic (chest) surgery is a relatively new surgical advancement for the treatment of lung cancer. The traditional surgery to open the chest and remove all or part of a lung, is called a thoracotomy. To perform this procedure, the surgeon makes a large incision in the patient’s chest to access the lungs. Since muscles of the chest wall are cut, patients usually experience significant post-operative pain and a long recovery.

Dr. Bates made three small incisions, about 8 millimeters long, in the side of the patient’s chest to insert the robotic-controlled tools he used to operate and a tiny high-definition camera that allowed him to see inside the patient’s chest.

Dr. Bates made a fourth incision, about 4 centimeters long, just below the patient’s eleventh rib to insert the tools used to remove the lower lobe of the patient’s left lung. Because of these small incisions, patients have less post-operative pain, less loss of blood, a quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay.

“It’s a new way to do an old procedure,” Bates says. We’ve always done lobectomies and lymph node dissections for lung cancer, but now we can use the robot and do it more minimally invasively.”

Lymph nodes are part of the body’s immune system. They are tiny masses of tissue throughout the body connected by lymphatic vessels. Cancer often spreads to other parts of the body through the lymph system. Dissecting, or removing lymph nodes during the lobectomy and having a pathologist examine them for cancer helps doctors determine what stage the cancer is, as well as the need for follow up chemotherapy.

The beauty of using the robot is that it has great agility to maneuver inside the body cavity. Like the surgeon who controls the robot, the robotic arms have “wrists”, so the tools the arms hold can cut, sew and remove tissue inside the body through the smaller incisions.

“Basically the robot is another tool we have in our arsenal,” Dr. Bates says. “Patients want more and more minimally invasive procedures, and as long as they’re getting the proper cancer operation, just like they would with a normal, open procedure, then I don’t see a downside.”

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