Patients from age 15 to 90 have benefitted from robotic-assisted cardiac and thoracic surgery
April 4, 2017 - Surgeons on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano achieved a major milestone when they performed that hospital’s 1,000th robotic surgery March 31, nearly six years after initiating the program in November 2011.
Robotic-assisted cardiac and thoracic surgery pairs a surgeon’s skills with advanced robotic technology. Surgeons use minimally invasive techniques, meaning large surgical incisions are not required. The technology translates the surgeon’s hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.
According to the maker of robotic-assisted technology used by Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano, the hospital’s cardiothoracic robotic program leads Texas in number of cardiothoracic robotic operations.* Cardiovascular and thoracic procedures that can be performed with the robotic surgical system include coronary artery bypass grafting, heart valve repair and all thoracic surgical procedures.
Fifteen-year-old Camden Thrailkill, a talented football and baseball player, benefitted from robotic surgery for mitral valve replacement at Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano last October. Traditionally, surgeons cut through the patient’s breastbone to access the mitral valve within the heart and the breastbone is wired together to heal. This approach would not have allowed Thrailkill to withstand direct hits to his chest during sporting events. By choosing the robotic-assisted surgery, Camden only missed three weeks of school. He returned to a limited workout routine in November 2016 and successfully tried out for spring baseball at his high school.
“The surgeon has a lot more maneuverability with the robot compared to other minimally invasive techniques using long instruments that don’t have wrists,” said Robert L. Smith II, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon on the medical staff and cardiovascular surgical services vice chair at Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano. “There are small instruments at the end of each wrist which provide a much greater degree of freedom when using sutures and other devices around the heart. It’s almost like having the surgeon’s hands in there.”
Kimble Jett, MD, medical director of thoracic surgery, notes how the robotic-assisted surgery can impact length of hospital stay positively. “If we take out a lobe of the lung robotically, most patients go home the next day,” Jett said. “By using the robotic-assisted surgical system, we can significantly reduce the trauma to the body that is associated with open chest cardiothoracic procedures. Having this technology allows surgeons to be less invasive, usually resulting in quicker patient recovery. It’s truly a win-win.”
Benefits to surgeons using the technology over traditional approaches may include greater surgical precision, increased range of motion, improved agility, enhanced visualization and improved access to the surgical site. The robotic-assisted surgery system integrates 3-D, high-definition (10 times magnification) endoscopy and four robotic arms that wield cameras and complex surgical equipment into the surgical field, all controlled from a nearby console by a trained surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Heart – Plano.
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*Based on volume data provided by Intuitive Surgical
Physicians are members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health's subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and are neither employees nor agents of those medical centers, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano or Baylor Scott & White Health.