5 Min Read
Last Updated: 04/24/2024
Fact Checked

Written by Karen Selby, RN | Medically Reviewed By Dr. Marcelo DaSilva | Edited By Walter Pacheco

Top Mesothelioma Specialists for Robotic Surgery

Several accomplished mesothelioma doctors have begun to advocate for robotic technology.

Farid Gharagozloo, Thoracic Surgeon & Expert Contributor for Asbestos.com

Orlando, Florida

Farid Gharagozloo

Pleural Specialist | Thoracic Surgery

Expertise: Thoracic Disorgers Robotic Surgery

Languages: English

Dr. W. Charles Conway

Santa Barbara, California

W. Charles Conway

Peritoneal Specialist | Peritoneal Surface Malignancies

Expertise: Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Thoracic Diseases, Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC

Dr. Mark Dylewski, Director of General Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Surgical Oncology

Coral Gables, Florida

Mark Dylewski

Pleural Specialist | Thoracic Surgery

Expertise: Dylewski Technique Minimally Invasive Surgery

Languages: English

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What Procedures Benefit from Robotic Surgery?

Aggressive tumor-removing surgery is improved with robotic techniques. An extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is a good example. During an EPP, surgeons remove the diseased lung. They also remove parts of the lining surrounding the heart and chest, nearby lymph nodes and part of the diaphragm if necessary.

EPP procedures carry great risks. The invasive procedure involves a difficult recovery period. Surgeons often discover patients are poor candidates for surgery only after making a major incision to open the chest.

Robotic Surgery Facts

  • Gives surgeon a 3D-magnified view inside the patient’s body
  • Allows for very precise movements using miniature robotic hands
  • Enables better preoperative evaluation of cancer spread
  • Reduces blood loss during aggressive tumor-removing surgery

In robotic surgery, a surgeon uses remote-control surgical tools and sees inside the patient’s body through a 3D camera. The tools and camera are mounted on little robotic arms that can fit through small incisions in the patient’s chest.

Robotic surgery helps doctors look at how much the tumor has grown and stops a lot of bleeding. This means that people who can’t be helped by surgery don’t have to go through a long operation, while those who can benefit have an easier recovery.

How Does Robotic Surgery Work?

Innovative robots such as the da Vinci Surgery System are designed to minimize the harmful side effects of surgery. Robotic surgery is an evolved form of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).

In the VATS technique, a surgeon uses long, thin tools and a camera on a probe so they can see what they are doing without completely opening the chest. Many specialists rely on VATS to perform biopsy procedures as part of a mesothelioma diagnosis.

VATS is not ideal for more complex procedures. The 2D camera eliminates the surgeon’s depth perception, and the tools are counterintuitive to use.

doctor using robotic surgery tools

A robotic surgery system solves these problems by giving the surgeon a magnified 3D view. It translates the surgeon’s movements into precise movements of tiny robotic hands. The surgeon can adjust the sensitivity of the controls as needed. The system filters out any tremors in the surgeon’s fingers.

The robotic systems mesothelioma specialists use do not involve any kind of artificial intelligence — they are merely superior tools for human surgeons to use. The surgeon’s view is also projected onto screens in the operating room so the entire surgical team can collaborate during surgery.

Surgeons have used robotic tools for chest cancer procedures since 2006. In 2013, the first robotically assisted EPP was conducted using the da Vinci Surgical System.

Advantages for Mesothelioma

Robotic systems can significantly improve surgery for pleural mesothelioma.

Better Patient Selection

Sometimes doctors can’t tell how far cancer has spread just by looking at scans. Remote-control robotic tools allow a surgeon to thoroughly look around inside the patient’s body before making the final decision to go ahead with the more invasive portion of the procedure.

Improved Cancer Cell Removal

With a high-definition 3D camera and tiny, computer-stabilized robotic tools, a surgeon can locate and remove cancer growth much more accurately than using only the human eye and fingers.

Reduced Blood Loss

When a patient has traditional surgery, they can lose a lot of blood which can cause complications and make it take longer to recover. With robotic tools, the doctor can stop any bleeding much faster. This means that patients need to stay in the hospital for a few days instead of weeks.

Disadvantages of Robotic Surgery

Using robotic surgery systems requires special training and practice. Some doctors don’t want to learn how to use these new tools, while others are unsure if they provide more advantages than other techniques.

The high cost of the technology is a barrier for many hospitals and cancer centers. If patients spend fewer days recovering in a hospital bed, a surgical practice can realize great savings in the long run.

In any case, until the technology becomes more widespread, patients will have to travel to one of a handful of advanced cancer centers around the country to find a surgeon with experience treating mesothelioma through robotic surgery.

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