In robotic lung cancer surgery, the surgeon operates through small incisions in the chest to remove the tumor and a certain amount of surrounding healthy tissue from the affected lobe. (The right lung is made up three lobes, while the left lung is made up of two.)
Our thoracic surgeons are currently performing several different robotic procedures for Stage 1 and Stage 2 lung cancer. Selected “neoadjuvant” lung cancer cases, in which the malignancy has already been treated with chemotherapy or radiation and is now also considered a good candidate for surgical removal.
Our robotic thoracic surgeons perform several different types of lung cancer procedures, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
- In a robotic wedge resection, the surgeon removes a small, wedge-shaped portion of lung, including the tumor and a certain amount of healthy tissue around it.
- In a robotic sub-lobar resection, the surgeon removes a portion of the anatomic segment that has the tumor in it, as well as some normal surrounding lung.
- In a robotic lobectomy, the surgeon removes the entire affected lobe. (i.e., the right upper lobe)
In all three of these procedures, a robotic lymph node dissection (surgical removal of the nearby lymph nodes around the lung and mediastinum) is also performed to evaluate whether the cancer has progressed beyond the lungs.
Advantages of Robotic Lung Cancer Surgery
Our robotic lung cancer surgery program is a natural outgrowth of our surgeons' work with the minimally-invasive thoracic surgical technique known as video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for treating lung cancer. Like VATS, robotic lung cancer surgery is performed through a series of small incisions—resulting in a faster recovery and significantly less post-operative discomfort and scarring than traditional open lung cancer surgery.
While both approaches are minimally invasive, robotic surgery offers certain advantages over the VATS approach for lung cancer surgery. Its exceptional precision and highly maneuverable “wrists,” which can rotate through 540 degrees, are ideally suited for resecting lung tissues and dissecting lymph nodes in the confined space of the chest. Another advantage is the da Vinci surgical robot’s high-definition, 3-D camera, which provides a superior view of the tissues being operated on. Robotic lung cancer surgery also enables the surgeon to view the lung structures from the front of the chest wall—an approach that more closely resembles that of open surgery.
Patients who have undergone robotic surgery tend to be discharged from the hospital in just two to three days, and return to their normal activities faster because there is less trauma to the body.