Robot-assisted thoracic surgery for the treatment of lung cancer


Dr Srinivas Kolla
Associates in McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgery

Advances in thoracic surgery and robot-assisted procedures are enabling cardiothoracic surgeons to improve the treatment of lung cancer.

Lung surgeries, which tend to be primarily for lung cancer, have historically been performed with an open-chest procedure that requires a large incision. This can lead to prolonged hospitalization, pain and discomfort for the patient. Today, many thoracic or pulmonary cases are performed in robot-assisted surgery.

A form of minimally invasive surgery, robot-assisted procedures eliminate the need for a large incision and instead require only small incisions. This gives the patient less discomfort, faster recovery and a quicker return to quality of life.

During robot-assisted surgery, the surgeon operates through a few small incisions, controlling every movement of the robot while seated at a console in the operating room. The movements of the surgeon’s hand, wrist and fingers guide the robot in manipulating surgical instruments inside the patient. Essentially, the robot becomes an extension of the surgeon’s hands. The surgeon visualizes the surgical site using a high-definition 3D camera. This magnified imaging provides better visibility and precision for exact treatment and greater dexterity for the surgeon.

Robot-assisted surgery also enables a more thorough operation for lung cancer. The unique feature of robotic lung surgery is that it gives a view inside the chest with 3D visualization of the lymph nodes, allowing us to remove them with minimal physical sequelae. Removal of more lymph nodes, along with the primary tumor, allows for more complete cancer removal.

In addition to easier extraction, robot-assisted surgery often yields better outcomes for patients because it stages cancer more accurately than previous methods. From a cancer point of view, it is unmatched in its ability to offer a complete operation to the patient.

We are also fortunate at McLeod to have a da Vinci Xi robot dedicated exclusively to thoracic surgery cases in one of our cardiac and vascular operating rooms. This technology allows us to perform many robotic procedures including lobectomy, wedge resection, thymectomy, lymph node dissection and chest wall resection.

However, robotic surgery is not limited to the robot and the surgeon. At McLeod Regional Medical Center, it takes a whole team of clinical staff to keep things running smoothly and delivering good outcomes.

I was very impressed with the cohesiveness of the medical team in McLeod’s operating rooms. In addition to their many years of service, there is a unified flow within the team. It’s a very rare find anywhere in the US, so it was a real plus for me when I chose to come to McLeod and Florence.

Frankly, the team members at McLeod Robotic Surgical are some of the best I have ever worked with. I have operated in many medical facilities and none are as good as our teams at McLeod.

The added benefit of offering robot-assisted lung cancer surgery at McLeod further strengthens the comprehensive cancer program we provide to patients from the Midlands to the Coast. In the treatment of lung cancer itself, we are making incredible progress with our low-dose CT lung screenings, our lung nodule clinic, and now virtual multidisciplinary conferences that involve the patient and family in decision-making.

The collaboration of our cancer team at McLeod and the addition of a dedicated da Vinci Xi robot takes the treatment of lung cancer to the next level and enables us to provide superior patient care.

A board-certified thoracic surgeon, Dr. Srinivas Kolla received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. He completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic surgery at the University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor. He has also completed fellowships in Surgical Intensive Care and Extracorporeal Life Support at University of Michigan Hospitals. Dr. Kolla has over 20 years of experience in surgery including Cardiac, Thoracic and Robotic Assisted Thoracic Surgery. He cares for patients at McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates.

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