Surgeons from Swedish are First in Seattle to Begin Performing Robotic-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

Surgeons from Swedish are First in Seattle to Begin Performing Robotic-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

SEATTLE, June 22, 2009 – The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) Thoracic Surgery Clinic now offers its patients the minimally invasive daVinci® Surgical System – a treatment option that pairs a surgeon's skills with state-of-the-art robotic technology.

"Swedish has a long history of adopting the newest minimally invasive techniques and technologies," said thoracic surgeon Brian Louie, M.D. "We were first in Washington state to do minimally invasive – or video-assisted thoracic surgery lobectomies, and we recently became the first surgical group Seattle to use the daVinci system for thoracic (chest) surgery."

"There will be a lot of potential benefits to our patients – and that's very satisfying."

The daVinci Surgical System features 3-D, high-definition endoscopy and four robotic arms that wield cameras and complex surgical equipment, all controlled from a nearby console by an experienced surgeon. The system allows the surgeon to perform a variety of complex procedures with extreme precision.

Thoracic Procedures

Dr. Louie, as well as Ralph Aye, M.D., and Eric Vallières, M.D. – the other two surgeons in Swedish's Thoracic Surgery program – began using the daVinci technology on May 21. Their first procedure was an upper lobectomy.

The robotic-assisted technology allows for minimally invasive approaches to areas not easily reached by conventional minimally invasive technology, and may also be used for:

• Thymectomies (removal of the thymus gland)
• Primary or reoperative achalasia (muscular inability to move food down the esophagus)
• Reoperative gastroesophageal reflux disease
• Primary or reoperative hiatal hernia
• Certain types of lung resections
• Complex resections of posterior mediastinal tumors (a growth in the upper chest near a lot of big blood vessels)

Patient Benefits

Not all patients will be candidates for robotic-assisted surgery. Depending on their personal circumstances, some patients will be better candidates for video-assisted thoracic surgery, while for others open surgery may offer the best possible outcome.

With the daVinci system, as with VATS, there are a number of potential benefits to patients, including:

• Faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay
• Smaller incisions and reduced blood loss
• Less early post-operative pain and less scarring
• A quicker return to normal activities of daily living

"It's important for patients to understand," said Dr. Louie, "that robotic-assisted surgery is not always the best option. But when it is, there are definite potential benefits."

Newest Technologies

The Swedish Cancer Institute introduced the daVinci Surgical System in 2005, as the first cancer center in Washington state to use the technology to treat prostate-cancer patients. One year later, Swedish became the first hospital in the Northwest to apply daVinci to gynecological cancers and procedures, and use it for kidney patients to perform partial nephrectomies.

The multiple uses of Swedish's daVinci system, as well as the overall volume of cases, led to the acquisition of a second daVinci system in November 2007. This updated version allowed many new surgical procedures and ensured that Swedish patients would continue to have access to the best available technology.

"At the SCI's Thoracic Surgery Clinic we have a vast amount of experience in minimally invasive thoracic surgery," said Dr. Louie. "Using the daVinci system is just part of the evolution of our minimally invasive program."

About the Swedish Cancer Institute Thoracic Surgery Clinic

The SCI Thoracic Surgery Clinic provides the highest quality care, comprehensive evaluation and surgical treatment to patients with cancerous and non-cancerous thoracic (chest) conditions. The clinic's mission – as a national leader in thoracic surgery – is to offer all patients a personal plan of care that reflects their own unique circumstances, in a setting that features an equal measure of compassion, state-of-the-art technology and progressive techniques. For more information, call 206-215-6800 or visit www.swedishthoracicsurgery.org

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Media Coverage

  • On the evening of April 22, KOMO Television (channel 4; ABC) aired and posted a related story on their Web site about physicians at Swedish starting to perform robotic-assisted thoracic surgery.
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