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The expert surgeons at Huntsman Cancer Institute are national leaders in robotic techniques. Our team uses the latest technologies to improve patient outcomes. We are proud to offer robotic surgery as a safe and effective approach to cancer treatment.

Robotic surgery is minimally invasive. A surgeon with special training controls a robotic system to perform precise, controlled movements. Huntsman Cancer Institute uses a robot called the Intuitive da Vinci® Surgical System. Inside the body, the machine imitates the surgeon’s hand and wrist movements. These movements control very small surgical tools and make tiny incisions, instead of one large cut used in traditional approaches.

Minimally invasive robotic surgery has many benefits for patients:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Shorter recovery times
  • Less pain and scarring
  • Fewer complications
  • Quicker surgery 
  • Less time under anesthesia
  • Better clinical outcomes

Learn more about how robotic surgery has improved patient outcomes.

Huntsman Cancer Institute first opened its robotic surgery program in 2011 and remains one of the most advanced and comprehensive in the U.S. today. With 15 surgeons performing in a variety of specialized cancer procedures, they have completed over 5,000 robotic operations to date.

Types of Cancer Treated with Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery is an approach that can be used in many surgical subspecialties. Huntsman Cancer Institute offers robotic surgery for these types of cancer:

Robotic surgery is not right for everyone. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.

How Robotic Surgery Works

The robotic system is controlled by a surgeon who sits at a nearby console and views the procedure through a high-definition 3D camera. The camera offers 10x magnification, allowing the surgeon to see the most precise and smallest structures. The robot holds the camera and the surgical tools inside the patient’s body. 

From the console, the surgeon uses controls to operate the robotic arms. The robot moves these small instruments and mimics the surgeon's hand movements precisely. This allows for stability and precision during the surgery, leading to improved outcomes for our patients.

With these tools, the surgeon can do many things: 

  • Make small incisions, or cuts
  • Reduce the number of incisions
  • See more clearly inside the patient
  • Get better tissue samples for treatment planning
  • Perform more complex surgeries

Single-Port Surgery

Huntsman Cancer Institute proudly introduced the first and only single-port robot in the Mountain West for head and neck surgical oncology patients in January 2024. Before the Food and Drug Administration granted approval for the utilization of robots in head and neck surgeries, procedures were extremely difficult. This technological leap forward will expand possibilities and increase the number of patients eligible for treatment.

The single-port robot is equipped with novel instrumentation and technology tailored to perform effectively within a narrow field. It incorporates a state-of-the-art camera with the capability to change shape, providing increased visibility around corners, which proves valuable when dealing with tumors in the base of the tongue or supraglottic region.

“While our surgeons have been conducting robotic cancer surgery for over a decade, the single-port robot represents a significant advancement that can substantially improve recovery time and minimize side-effects in select patients.”

Sachin Apte, MD, MS, MBA
Chief clinical officer at Huntsman Cancer Institute

Multi-port robots, like the three da Vinci XI systems at Huntsman Cancer Institute, remain the standard for surgical care at major cancer centers. However, the addition of this new da Vinci single-port robot will improve patient care. Single-port robots include all the tools of a multi-port robot in one arm, leading to less invasive and more accurate treatment.

Huntsman Cancer Institute also has an ION Robotic Navigation Bronchoscopy system and the University of Utah Hospital has access to three more da Vinci XI systems.

Hilary McCrary, MD, MPH, standing with the new single-port robot
Hilary McCrary, MD, MPH, conducted the first surgery at Huntsman Cancer Institute using the new single-port robot.

Our Experts

Huntsman Cancer Institute offers one of the most comprehensive and advanced robotic surgery programs in the United States, with 15 surgeons trained in different specialties. Our experts are highly trained and have experience using robotic surgery to treat various types of cancer. 

Since we launched our program in 2011, we have performed more than 5,000 surgeries using the robot. Our doctors use a multidisciplinary approach to review each patient’s case and discuss treatment options with specialists in oncology, radiation, hormone therapies, and more.

Robotic Surgery Training Program

As nationally recognized robotic surgery specialists in oncology, we have created and developed a robotic surgery training program used at many cancer centers across the country. All surgeons who practice robotic surgery at Huntsman Cancer Institute are required to complete this training and credentialing.

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