Robot-Assisted Thoracic Procedures

The experience of facing any surgery to treat a disorder in the chest cavity can be quite frightening. In addition to considering the health issue at hand, you may have several decisions to make including which hospital to go to, which surgeon to consult with, and finally which procedure to undergo. Learning as much as possible about your options may ease some of your concerns - this includes the possibility of considering a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery.

The Swedish Thoracic Surgery Division Now Offers Its Patients Access to 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. Swedish was the first in Washington State to perform minimally invasive or VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) lobectomy, and recently became the first in Seattle to use the daVinci® system for thoracic (chest) surgery. With many patients already undergoing minimally invasive surgery for thoracic and esophageal diseases and cancers, making the transition to the robot was a natural progression.

The robotic-assisted technology allows for minimally invasive approaches to areas not easily reached by conventional minimally invasive technology. It may 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 posterior chest near the spine)

Currently, Swedish is offering access to the robot to selective patients with early stage lung cancer, thymic diseases such as small (less than 3 cm) thymomas and myasthenia gravis, and mediastinal tumors such as neurofibromas and duplication cysts.

Swedish is using the robot for diseases and conditions where the 3D image and increased dexterity available with the robotic technology will benefit the patient over and above standard minimally invasive approaches.

Patient Benefits

Surgery is generally the most effective way to treat many disorders of the lungs and esophagus. But traditional open surgery may have a number of drawbacks caused primarily by having to spread the ribs apart to operate. Incisions also tend to be longer.

For the patient treated with the daVinci® system, as with video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), there are a number of potential benefits, including:

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

This approach, like other minimally invasive surgical approaches, has limitations and is not always appropriate for more complex procedures. Depending on their personal circumstances, some patients will be better candidates for video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), while for others open surgery may offer the best possible outcome.

News Releases & Media Coverage

July 31, 2009
Swedish's Robotic-Assisted Surgery Program Featured on KCPQ TV

June 22, 2009
Surgeons from Swedish are First in Seattle to Begin Performing Robotic-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

April 22, 2009
Swedish's Robotic-Assisted Thoracic Surgery Program featured on KOMO Television