Nov 15, 2018 8:00 AM

John Stringham, MD, discusses robotic thoracic surgery.
John Stringham, MD, discusses robotic thoracic surgery next to the da Vinci Surgical System.

Patients needing thoracic surgery can benefit from a shorter hospital stay, less post-operative pain, a lower chance of complications, and a decreased risk of mortality with robotic surgery technology. Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) uses the Intuitive da Vinci® Surgical System for minimally invasive advanced lung, esophageal, and mediastinal resections.

“With smaller incisions and more delicate maneuvering, patients are having much less pain, to the point that some are not taking narcotic pain medications after surgery,” says John Stringham, MD, thoracic surgeon oncologist at HCI and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Utah. “It’s been a real revelation. We’re hopefully making surgery better tolerated, so folks are able to get back to being active and living life.”

Robotic thoracic surgery provides several advantages:

  • Improved visualization during the procedure
  • Finer instrument movements to precisely mimic the human hand
  • Smaller incisions (largest is 12 mm versus VATS 40 mm access incision)
  • Decreased risk of conversion to an open procedure (6% versus VATS 15%)
  • Increased nodal harvest leading to better oncologic staging, prognosis, and treatment planning
  • Improved ability to do smaller resections in patients with poor baseline lung function
  • Effective even with difficult variations in anatomy, bulky central tumors, and adhesions after previous chest operations

Stringham came to HCI from University of Virginia Health System in order to bring new thoracic surgery technologies to Utah and the region. HCI is the only hospital in the entire Mountain West region using the robotic Intuitive da Vinci® Surgical System for thoracic surgery. 

Robotic thoracic surgery may be used for a number of procedures:

  • Lung lobectomy
  • Segmentectomy
  • Wedge excisional biopsies
  • Thymectomy
  • Mediastinal mass excisions
  • Esophageal mass excisions
  • Diaphragm plications
  • Select chest wall mass excisions
  • Foregut operations such as paraesophageal hernia repair, fundoplication, Heller myotomy for achalasia

Stringham says HCI’s thoracic surgery team has a high level of expertise and experience treating rare cancers.

“We’re glad to bring that expertise to the Mountain West and provide outstanding care close to home for our patients.”

Learn more about robotic surgery or refer a patient to HCI.

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