Da Vinci Robotic System aids cardiothoracic surgery

December 25, 2018

Community members often ask me why I feel robotically assisted cardiothoracic surgery is better for my patients.

The answer is multi-fold: Patients experience fewer complications when they have robotically assisted surgery because the incisions are smaller and less prone to infection; surgical teams are operating for a shorter amount of time because the robotic surgery system is able to move in ways the human hand does not move; and finally, after surgery there is less need for pain medications, which is a huge patient benefit as many patients do not want to risk becoming addicted to opioids.

When Beebe Healthcare introduced the Center for Robotic Surgery, leaders of the healthcare system made a commitment to continually expanding the program.

Surgical teams were well trained and started out doing cardiothoracic procedures – mostly those of the center cavity of the body. Procedures on the lungs, esophagus and throat can often be performed robotically with the da Vinci system.
Common robotically assisted cardiothoracic surgery procedures include robotic lobectomy; robotic segmentectomy; robotic wedge resection; robotic resection of anterior mediastinal tumors; and robotic pericardial window and resection.

In addition, our teams perform some cardiac procedures, including those to remove cysts from the heart.

Not every patient is the right candidate for robotically assisted procedures, so our surgical teams are still performing traditional open surgery and minimally invasive procedures in the operating rooms at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus. 

We are in the process of training additional surgeons and surgical teams who will be performing gynecologic surgery, general surgery and bariatric surgery utilizing the da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

And, if during a robotically assisted procedure there comes a need to switch to an open procedure, all of the team members are in place to be able to do that. We talk to each other throughout the procedure to determine what is best for the patient.
Each movement of the specialized da Vinci Surgical System is controlled by the surgeon who sits at the control platform. The robotic system is not preprogrammed, as some may think. All of the surgery movements are done in real time by the surgeon. However, the benefit of the robotic system is that it can make incisions and movements that are much smaller, more delicate, and intuitive.

The surgeon and the team follow the procedure on a screen in real time. High-resolution video improves what the surgeon can see during the procedure.

Instead of being hampered by bone structure as the human hand is, the da Vinci system can make 360-degree movements, which is why the incisions can be so much smaller.

Robotic technology continues to advance, allowing Beebe Healthcare’s surgeons and surgical teams to perform more intricate and complex surgeries that are less invasive.

By providing advanced robotic technology here at Beebe, we are able to continue to provide the highest-quality services for our patients and community. We are committed to being a leader in providing patients with minimally invasive treatments that allow them to recover more quickly, and get back to living and enjoying their lives.

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Kurt Wehberg, MD, is a cardiothoracic surgeon with Beebe Cardiothoracic Surgery. He is also chief of robotics and vice president of clinical innovation for Beebe Healthcare. He is working to develop the programs and training teams for the Center for Robotic Surgery at Beebe Healthcare.