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Robotic Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgery is dedicated to the treatment of diseases of the chest. The Rod Taylor Thoracic Care Center at the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health provides state-of-the art diagnostics and treatments for lung and esophageal cancer.

Our surgeons were the first to perform robotic thoracic surgery in Central Florida in 2007, and the program is considered a leader in the field of robotic surgery. As a recognized da Vinci® epicenter for thoracic robotic surgery, surgeons from across the country and around the world come to our center to learn the latest techniques in robotic surgery for the treatment of lung cancer, chest tumors and esophageal cancer.  

Our doctors are committed to continually improving the outcome of minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery, and our program was awarded the highest 3-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons in 2015. 

Robotic Lung Cancer Surgery

Surgery for lung cancer most commonly includes removal of diseased lung tissue, a procedure known as a lobectomy, which generally provides the best chance for survival. A robotic lobectomy allows the surgeon to perform lung cancer surgery using a less invasive technique than conventional open surgery. With smaller incisions, robotic surgery normally results in fewer complications, less pain, and a faster hospital discharge and overall recovery.*

In a robotic lobectomy, the surgeon removes the entire affected lobe. In certain patients, more lung function can be preserved through a robotic wedge resection in which a small, wedge-shaped portion of the lung is removed including the tumor and a certain amount of healthy tissue around it.

To diagnose lung cancer, our doctors can perform a robotic lymph node dissection (surgical removal of the nearby lymph nodes around the lung and mediastinum) to evaluate whether the cancer has progressed beyond the lungs. Our surgeons will also perform robotic biopsies of suspicious lung nodules, to assess whether they are cancerous or benign.

Most patients with early or localized lung cancer are candidates for a robotic approach as long as they have adequate lung and heart function and are fit to undergo surgery. Patients with more advanced disease may be eligible for surgery following a complete evaluation by our team.

The hospital stay for robotic lung surgery is 2–4 days with a return to normal activity in 3–4 weeks. In comparison, conventional open lung surgery typically requires a hospital stay of 5–7 days and a recovery period of 6–8 weeks.   

For more information on lung cancer treatment, visit the Rod Taylor Thoracic Cancer Care Center.

Robotic Surgery of Mediastinal or Chest Tumors

The mediastinum is a relatively narrow space or compartment between the lungs. Robotic  mediastinal surgery removes masses such as thymic tumors, benign cysts, thymus gland tumors called thymomas, and other growths or lesions.

Our doctors also perform chest wall resection surgery to remove benign and cancerous chest wall tumors.

In both of these robotic procedures, several small incisions are made for a much less invasive approach than traditional open surgery in which one large central incision is made in the chest.

Recovery from robotic chest or mediastinal surgery generally takes 3–4 weeks compared to 6–8 weeks for conventional open surgery.

Robotic Thymus Gland Surgery

Some patients with an autoimmune neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis can benefit from robotic surgery to remove the thymus gland, a procedure called a thymectomy. Robotic surgery is ideal for these cases since it avoids the more commonly performed open sternotomy procedure in which a vertical inline incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is divided, or "cracked." Studies of robotic thymectomies have shown a significant decrease in complications compared with conventional open sternotomy surgery.

After a typical hospital stay of 1–2 days for robotic thymus gland surgery, most patients are discharged home, with a full return to normal activities in 2–4 weeks.

Robotic Esophageal Surgery

Robotic esophageal surgery is performed to treat esophageal canceer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, and achalasia and esophageal diverticulum (conditions that interfere with food passing into the stomach).

Robotic esophagectomy allows this complex surgery to be performed with smaller incisions and less pain, often with a faster recovery and less risk for pulmonary complications such as pneumonia.

Recovery is dependent on the extent of surgery performed and ranges from 1 day in the hospital for benign esophageal surgery to 7 days in the hospital for esophagectomy for cancer. Full recovery takes 3–8 weeks with a longer recovery for esophageal cancer patients.

Other Robotic Procedures

A number of other procedures are also available from doctors at the Rod Taylor Thoracic Care Center, including:

  • Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) — a minimally invasive thoracic surgery that does not use a thoracotomy  (a large incision into the chest wall). Our doctors perform VATs to diagnose and treat plural diseases, which include infection, fluid buildup or cancer surrounding the lungs.
  • Robotic tracheal (windpipe) procedures to remove tumors and treat tracheal stenosis (a narrowing condition).
  • Endobronchial ultrasound to diagnose lung cancer and enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Navigational bronchoscopy for biopsy of small lung nodules.
  • LINX® Reflux Management System procedure to treat gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which involves implanting a band of magnetic beads around the lower esophageal sphincter.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment or consultation with one of our surgeons trained in robotic thoracic surgery, call the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health at 407.648.5384. 

*As with any surgical procedure, robotic surgery involves risk, some of which may be similar to the risks of conventional open surgery. Talk to your doctor to decide if robotic surgery is right for you.