Cardiothoracic Robotic SurgeryFebruary 19, 2014
A select few of the more advanced hospitals now offer robotic-assisted procedures to treat cardiovascular disease as well as non-cardiac thoracic disease. This state-of-the-art procedure is done by a specialised team of surgeons, nurses and support staff who are highly trained and experienced in the use of computer-controlled surgical systems. These computer-controlled systems provide all of the benefits of traditional open-heart surgery and other types of cardiothoracic surgery with the added advantages of a minimally invasive technique, reduced bleeding and scarring and quicker recovery.
Thoracic surgery cases are usually carried out in a multidisciplinary approach that involves practitioners from Pulmonary Medicine as well as professionals specialising in Medical and Radiation Oncology.
Robotic-assisted surgery is a leading-edge procedure. It is minimally invasive, which means it does not require large surgical incisions. Moreover, the precision of the technology can be an excellent option for complex, delicate surgeries around the heart and in the chest.
Types of robotic assisted cardiothoracic procedures
There are two main cardiothoracic procedures that are done via robotic-assisted surgery – pulmonary resection and coronary revascularisation
Pulmonary resection – A robotic-assisted pulmonary resection is performed with multiple small incisions between the ribs through which the robotic arms are inserted. It does not involve spreading any ribs apart as in conventional surgery. This approach provides better access to the lung and its blood supply with excellent optics provided by the robotic video camera while minimising physical pain to the patient. With a robotic-assisted pulmonary resection, surgeons can remove small portions of lung tissue and associated lymph nodes and also repair and resection the oesophagus and perform mediastinal tumor resections and diaphragmatic procedures.
Coronary revascularisation – A robotic-assisted coronary revascularisation or artery bypass procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that is carried out through small incisions made between the ribs. This procedure minimises the physical trauma of cutting through the breast bone and spreading the ribs to access the heart area, a procedure that carries associated risks and complications. Surgeons are able to repair multiple diseased vessels using the robotic-assisted procedure.
How a robotic-assisted cardiothoracic procedure is done
Unlike conventional surgery where the surgeon has to stand beside the patient throughout, during a robotic-assisted procedure the surgeon sits at a controlling console near the patient. An assisting surgeon stays at the bedside next to the patient.
The operating surgeon watches the operative field through a video camera and performs the procedure while controlling several specialised robotic arms from the console. These robotic arms replicate the surgeon’s hand movements.
Three other computers at the console track each and every one of the robotic arms movements 1,000 times a second. This information is digitised, which enables unparalleled surgical precision. With computer-assisted robotic surgery, surgeons can now perform procedures that were previously beyond the capabilities of human manual dexterity.
Benefits of robotic-assisted surgery
One of the benefits to the patient from robotic-assisted surgery is the reduced length of recovery time. Instead of taking months to recover from the healing of the sternum, recovery times can be reduced to a matter of weeks. Patients can often return to normal activity in two to three weeks instead of six to eight weeks common to standard open surgery.