Robotic Lobectomy

Surgeons at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center are exceptionally skilled at performing robotic lobectomy procedures, shown to be an effective treatment for early-stage lung cancer. Lahey is at the forefront of robotic lung cancer surgery.

Lobectomy is the surgical removal of one of the lobes of the lung, most often to treat cancer. By performing more robotic lobectomies than other hospitals in the Greater Boston area, Lahey surgeons have built expertise and proficiency – which can lead to greater surgical success and a faster recovery for patients.

Lahey’s acquisition in 2016 of two state-of-the-art daVinci Xi Robots opened new opportunities for patients with lung cancer. The new Xi Robots have an optimized design for performing thoracic surgery, giving surgeons better range of motion, better visibility, and the ability to perform specialized robotic lobectomy procedures through incisions that are smaller than ever before.

While Lahey is committed to offering the very latest treatments for lung cancer, we also are committed to prevention with our Tobacco Treatment Program and early detection with our Lung Cancer Screening Program, one of the largest in the nation.

How Robotic Lobectomy is Performed

Robotic thoracic surgery is performed in our special Robotic Surgery suite while the patient is asleep under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes four small incisions on the patient’s side and inserts special surgical instruments and a scope with a tiny video camera at the end. The instruments are connected to the arms of the daVinci Robot.

The Robot cannot move by itself. The surgeon sits at a nearby console and controls all of the Robot’s movements while watching the progress on a three-dimensional video monitor. Because the daVinci Xi Robot has “wristed” instruments that move as the surgeon moves his or her fingers, hands, and wrists, the surgeon has excellent dexterity, precision, and control.

The surgeon removes the affected lobe of the lung and nearby lymph nodes, and removes them through one of the incisions. The surgical instruments are then removed and the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures.

How Robotic Lobectomy Compares to Other Procedures

For many years, an operation for lung cancer involved open surgery, which required a large incision and spreading of the ribs to allow access to the lung.

Then a newer procedure was introduced called VATS lobectomy, a type of minimally invasive lung cancer surgery. Performed through small incisions without the need to spread the ribs, VATS lobectomy offered less pain, shorter hospitals stays, and a faster recovery.

With VATS, the instruments inserted through the incisions are rigid without the same dexterity and the images projected by the camera used for the procedure are only two-dimensional instead of three dimensional.

Lahey surgeons have found that the daVinci Xi Robot has distinct advantages over VATS in performing lobectomies including surgical instruments that are more precise with a wider range of motion and better visibility with three dimensional imaging.

Benefits of Robotic Lobectomy

Among the benefits of robotic lobectomy at Lahey are:

  • Smaller incisions. This means patients can recover more quickly and get back to their daily activities sooner.
  • Less pain compared to standard incisions. The chest wall is sensitive and surgery can aggravate the nerves within it, but robotic procedures can be done with smaller incisions, in the lower part of the chest where the space between the ribs is greater.
  • Quicker return home. Although everyone’s recovery is different, because of the expertise of our surgeons and the use of the Xi Robots, some Lahey patients have gone home in as little as two days after surgery.
  • Better ability to determine if cancer has spread. Robotic lobectomy allows for more careful and thorough dissection of the lymph nodes, where lung cancer might be hiding. Knowing if cancer is present in the lymph nodes helps determine the stage of the cancer and whether additional therapy is warranted. If lymph nodes are involved additional chemotherapy can significantly improve survival so removal of lymph node and accuracy of staging is critically important. The Xi Robot facilitates a meticulous and thorough dissection of each patient’s lymph nodes.

Why Lahey for Robotic Lobectomy?

There are a number of reasons why patients and referring physicians choose Lahey for robotic lung surgery

  • Lahey surgeons have experience performing robotic lobectomy procedures, which require specialized expertise. As with virtually any type of surgery, the more clinicians perform a certain procedure, the better the outcomes.
  • Lahey has the very latest Xi Robot technology to perform robotic lobectomies, which means patients benefit from the most recent medical innovation.
  • Lahey is known for our “team approach” to care. Our hospital-based surgeons work together, so patients benefit from a collaborative environment and the expertise of multiple providers.
  • Lahey has a dedicated thoracic robotic surgery nursing team that has become skilled at important aspects of robotic procedures, particularly the specialized instrumentation used by the surgeons. This allows for more seamless, coordinated care for patients.
  • Lahey has a dedicated Nursing and Physician Assistant team that routinely cares for our thoracic surgical patients as we feel that postoperative care is just as important as intraoperative care.

Other Thoracic Robotic Procedures at Lahey

Lahey’s expertise in thoracic robotic surgery extends beyond lung cancer treatment. Other conditions that we treat with thoracic robotic surgery include:

  • Benign and malignant esophageal tumors
  • Hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Benign and malignant mediastinal tumors including thymomas.
  • Paralyzed hemidiaphragm (by placating and flattening the diaphragm to improve breathing)
  • Myasthenia gravis – a rare disorder resulting muscular weakness