By Dr. Srinivas Kolla
McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates
Advancements in thoracic surgery and robotic-assisted procedures enable cardiothoracic surgeons to improve the treatment of lung cancer.
Lung surgeries, which tend to be primarily for lung cancer, historically have been performed with an open chest procedure that requires a large incision. This can cause prolonged hospitalization, pain and discomfort for the patient. Today, many thoracic or lung cases are performed with robotic-assisted surgery.
A form of minimally invasive surgery, robotic-assisted procedures remove the need for a large incision and instead only requires small incisions. This gives the patient less discomfort, a faster recovery, and an earlier return to their quality of life.
During a robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon operates through a few small incisions, controlling the robot’s every move while seated at a console in the operating room. The surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements guide the robot manipulating the surgical instruments inside the patient. In essence, the robot becomes an extension of the surgeon’s hands. The surgeon views the surgical site through a high-definition 3-D camera. This magnified imagery provides enhanced visibility and improved precision for exact treatment and greater dexterity for the surgeon.
Robotic-assisted surgery also provides a more thorough operation for lung cancer. The unique feature of robotic lung surgery is that it gives a view inside the chest with 3D visualization of the lymph nodes, allowing us to remove them with minimal physical after-effects. Extracting more lymph nodes, as well as the primary tumor, provides a more complete removal of the cancer.
In addition to easier extraction, robotic-assisted surgery often leads to better outcomes for patients because it more accurately stages the cancer than with previous methods. From a cancer perspective, it is unparalleled in its ability to deliver a comprehensive operation for the patient.
We are also fortunate at McLeod to have a da Vinci Xi robot dedicated exclusively to thoracic surgical cases in one of our Heart and Vascular Operating Rooms. This technology allows us to perform many robotic procedures including lobectomy, wedge resection, thymectomy, lymph node dissection and chest wall resection.
However, robotic surgery is more than just the robot and the surgeon. At McLeod Regional Medical Center, it takes a whole team of clinical staff to ensure a smooth operation and good outcomes.
I have been very impressed with the cohesiveness of the medical team in the operating rooms at McLeod. In addition to their many years of service, there is a unified flow among the team. This is a very rare find anywhere in the United States, so it was a real plus for me when I chose to come to McLeod and Florence.
Quite frankly, the McLeod Robotic Surgical team members are some of the best staff I have ever worked with. I have operated in numerous medical facilities, and none are as good as our teams at McLeod.
The added benefit of offering robotic-assisted surgery for lung cancer at McLeod further strengthens the comprehensive cancer program we offer to patients from the midlands to the coast. In the treatment of lung cancer itself, we are making incredible strides with our low-dose CT lung screenings, our lung nodule clinic and now-virtual multidisciplinary conferences, which involve the patient and family in the decision-making.
The collaboration of our cancer team at McLeod and the addition of a dedicated da Vinci Xi robot is taking the treatment of lung cancer to the next level and allows us to provide superior care to patients.
A Board Certified Thoracic Surgeon, Dr. Srinivas Kolla received his degree in medicine from Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. He completed general surgery and thoracic surgery residencies at University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor. He also completed fellowships in Surgical Critical Care and Extracorporeal Life Support at University of Michigan Hospitals. Dr. Kolla has more than 20 years of surgical experience that includes cardiac, thoracic and robotic-assisted thoracic surgery. He cares for patients at McLeod Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates.