Treating Cancer with Advanced Technology
At UAB, robotically-assisted surgery is a bridge between the expertise of our surgeons and the most advanced precision possible. Robotically-assisted surgery is a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive surgical approach used in place of traditional surgery, and at UAB, it is being harnessed to treat several types of cancer, including urologic, gynecologic, thoracic, colorectal, and head and neck cancers.
What is Robotic Surgery?
Robotic surgery utilizes a machine called the da Vinci robot, which allows specialists to treat cancer with tiny incisions and minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue. The surgeon controls the robot from a console that provides a detailed three-dimensional view—magnified 10 times—of the operation site; the technology also translates his or her hand movements into the precise motions of tiny instruments that operate within a controlled space.
Robotic Surgery—By the Numbers
- 1st—UAB is the first medical center in the state to use the da Vinci robot.
- 10 times—da Vinci allows surgeons to see the operating site at 10 times magnification.
- 3-D—The surgeon controls the robot from a console that provides a detailed, 3-D view.
- 26—More than 20 UAB surgeons specialize in robotic surgery.
- 75%—Three-fourths of robotic surgeries at UAB are performed on cancer.
- 900+—UAB surgeons perform nearly 1,000 robotic surgeries each year.
Robotic Surgery Benefits
There are many advantages for the patient—and surgeon—with robotically-assisted surgery, including:
- Minimal blood loss
- Small incisions
- Less pain
- Minimal or no scarring
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery
- Reduced risk of trauma to surrounding tissue
- Less disruption to other organs and tissues near the site of the surgery
- Greater surgical precision
- Increased range of motion
- Improved dexterity
- Enhanced visualization
- Improved access
- Da Vinci is highly maneuverable and gives the doctor images in high-definition
- Less fatigue with improved ergonomics
What our Surgeons Say
“We are setting new surgical standards and pushing the robotic surgery platform into previously untouched frontiers in a variety of fields,” says Warner Huh, MD, chair of the UAB Hospital robotic surgery committee. “Particularly in head-and-neck, thoracic, and gynecologic cancers, our expertise and innovations have attracted hundreds of surgeons from around the world for observation and educational sessions.”
“Robotic surgery represents a true paradigm shift in thoracic surgery,” says UAB Chief of Thoracic Surgery Robert J. Cerfolio, MD. “Thoracic surgery has been one of the last specialties to adopt the robot, and we are proud that UAB has been a pioneer. We have published several papers that show its benefits for improved patient outcomes with less pain, smaller incisions, and the ability for patients to return to work and activity more quickly. The robot has allowed us to remove not only tumors in the lung, but also in the mediastinum, thymus, and the esophagus. There is no question that robotic thoracic surgery is the future of minimally invasive surgery, and our team at UAB is proud to lead in this innovative endeavor.”
“Robotically-assisted surgery is an option for patients to have minimally invasive surgery—and one that could effectively remove the cancer while causing fewer side effects,” says William Carroll, MD, a head and neck surgeon with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The robot is an extension of the minimally invasive approach we use at UAB. Our first priority is getting rid of the cancer. Our second is to have fewer side effects. For instance, tongue-base tumors had been treated with radiation and chemotherapy instead of surgery, because the surgery was very difficult for the patient. But the robot lets us take out tongue-base tumors and decreases the swallowing and airway problems that occurred with traditional surgery.”