Surgeons Spare Lung Cancer Patients from Open Chest Surgery

Article ID: 533997

Released: 3-Oct-2007 6:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: University of Illinois at Chicago

Newswise — Patients diagnosed with lung cancer may benefit from a minimally invasive robotic procedure that requires only a few small incisions instead of a large open chest incision to remove a cancerous growth in the lung.

Surgeons at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago are performing robotic-assisted lung resection surgery using the Intuitive da Vinci Surgical System for patients who would otherwise need traditional thoracotomy through a large incision in the chest wall and the separation or cutting of ribs to access the lungs.

"This is a new era in the treatment of lung cancer," said Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, Lloyd M. Nyhus Professor of Surgery and chief of minimally invasive, general and robotic surgery at UIC. Giulianotti performed the first robotic lung resection for cancer in 2002 and has since performed more than 30 robotic lung resections.

"Robotic technology allows us to maneuver in the rigid anatomy of the chest to remove cancerous lesions and lymph nodes in difficult-to-reach areas. This less traumatic procedure significantly reduces blood loss, pain, scarring and recovery time."

Robotic lung resection is performed using instruments that are introduced through special ports and attached to the robotic arms of the surgical system. The surgeon, seated at a console several feet away from the patient, precisely controls the wrist-like instrumentation inside the patient while viewing fine structures of the anatomy in 3-D.

"A number of patients are eligible for this procedure, even if the cancer is not caught at an early stage," said Dr. Malek Massad, UIC professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery.

An estimated 213,380 new lung cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2007, according to the American Cancer Society. In Illinois, approximately 6,690 people will die the disease this year.

Catherine Oliver, 62, of Chicago, had the right upper lobe of her lung removed by robotic surgery at UIC on Sept. 19. She was discharged from the hospital a few days later with little pain or physical limitations and is recovering at home.

"In our clinical experience, the benefits to the patient are substantial," said Giulianotti, "including reduced trauma and improved immunological function after surgery."

This was Oliver's second robotic surgery in less than a month. Surgeons at UIC also removed an adrenal gland tumor, unrelated to her lung cancer, a few weeks prior to her robotic lung surgery.

The UIC surgical team involved in Oliver's care included Giulianotti, Dr. Fabio Sbrana, Dr. Norman Snow, and Dr. Edgar Chedrawy.

For more information about the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, visit

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