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Friday, March 08, 2013 - Robotic Surgery Offers Colorectal Cancer Patients Safer Outcomes and Faster Recovery

By Thomas J. Kayal, M.D.

Robotic surgery offers colorectal cancer patients safer outcomes and faster recovery

Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) strikes 140,000 Americans each year and is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. Most commonly, surgery is used to combat the disease by removing the tumor and surrounding tissue before it spreads to other parts of the body. In the past decade, laparoscopic surgical techniques, particularly the use of robotics, have made this surgery significantly less stressful to the patient thanks to tiny incisions, less scarring, minimal blood loss and less postoperative pain. As a result, in most cases, patients can go home in three to five days. Best of all, laparoscopic surgical outcomes offer the same results as more invasive general “open” surgeries requiring a large incision across the lower abdomen.

What is Robotic Surgery?

As a colorectal surgeon, I have seen the significant patient benefit derived from the use of robotic-assisted surgery. Rest assured, this kind of surgery is not performed by a robot. Rather, a four-armed robot assists me in performing the procedure by enhancing my ability to observe intricate areas of the colon and rectum and remove cancerous tumors. Remarkably, this operation is performed using miniaturized surgical instruments that fit through a few tiny incisions about the width of a dime, compared with a 6 to 12 inch incision used in traditional surgery. These instruments are mounted on three robotic arms that provide a wider range of motion and precision. The fourth arm holds a high-definition 3-D camera that projects a 10 times magnification of the cancerous tissue. This greatly aids in the removal of even the smallest cancers, which could otherwise be missed with less sophisticated technology. I manipulate the instruments and the camera from a console located in the operating room while looking through a high-definition monitor.

Safer and Less Invasive

Robotic surgery can be safely and effectively used for even the most difficult colon and rectal cancers. It is also commonly used to treat benign conditions such as diverticulitis. Minimally invasive robotic resection of colon and rectal tumors enables me to better view the anatomy of a deep and narrow pelvis and thus perform intricate dissections more precisely, resulting in less blood loss for the patient. This is also especially valuable in allowing for “sphincter-preserving surgery,” which can eliminate any need for permanent “bags” or colostomies.

The Colorectal Cancer Program at CentraState Medical Center offers a full range of state-of-the-art preventative, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services expertise. The program team is led by highly regarded specialized doctors and clinicians who diagnose and treat all stages of colon and rectal cancer. For more information, call (855) 411-CANCER or visit www.centrastatecancercenter.com

Dr. Thomas Kayal is a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon specializing in robotic surgical procedures. He is on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold and can be reached at Advanced Surgical Health Associates by calling 732-308-4202.