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Lung Cancer Patients Have Options with Robotic Surgical Approach

Advanced procedure reduces post-operative pain, shortens length of stay and allows for quicker recovery

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. In 2010 alone, over 200,000 new cases were diagnosed. Early detection is crucial for improving chances for survival and surgery is often the treatment option of choice for treating the disease in its early stages.

Historically, lung cancer removal has been performed through a large incision between the ribs called a thoracotomy. However, new technology utilizing minimally invasive tools makes it now possible for patients to recover with only a few small incisions.

Pioneering this newer, more advanced surgical approach to lung cancer resection is Arthur T. Martella, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center who is a nationally recognized leader in the use of minimally invasive thoracic surgery employing the da Vinci robot. This approach allows surgeons to perform complex surgery through the use of en ­hanced visualization, precision, control and unparalleled surgical dexterity.

“Robotic lung surgery is a prime example of the advancements in thoracic medicine,” said Dr. Martella. “Patients now have more sophisticated options for treating lung cancer.”

Formerly, the only option to surgically remove lung cancer involved cutting through muscle and spreading the ribs apart. This approach prolonged the patient’s recovery and caused greater discomfort. Over time, as the techniques, skills and technology in thoracic surgery improved to become less invasive, surgeons began using a technique called Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS) which utilizes smaller incisions, a fiber-optic camera, specialized instruments and monitors to perform surgery.

Until now, these techniques were considered to be the most effective and most popular approaches for lung cancer removal in American medicine. With the advances made in robot-assisted surgery, incisions are even smaller than ever before and the ability to visualize the surgical field is greatly enhanced.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System allows surgeons several more degrees of motion and mimics the intricate movement of the hand and wrist. Every surgical maneuver is performed using the surgeon’s hands which control the robotic arms to perform the procedure.

The robot provides a three-dimensional view of the patient’s chest through the computer console that is dramatically magnified to provide greater visual clarity. By performing a robotic lobectomy using the da Vinci System, thoracic surgeons are able to remove the cancerous lobe and lymph nodes using the smallest of incisions.

Lung cancer patients who opt for robotic surgery over more traditional methods generally experience:

  • Less pain
  • Less scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less impact on breathing
  • Quicker recovery
  • Ability to receive therapy sooner

“At Lourdes, our goal is to ensure the best possible outcome in the safest, most effective and most comfortable manner for our patients. Through the use of robotics, our patients now have a much shorter road to recovery,” Martella added.

Lourdes’ comprehensive lung cancer surgery program is led by a team of thoracic experts who care for patients at all stages of the disease. The hospital’s patient-centered, multidisciplinary approach ensures each patient benefits from the collaborative expertise of physicians and support staff uniquely focused on their individual needs. For more information, visit ¬†


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