One of the most extensive and challenging major surgical operations is the Whipple procedure. This involves the removal of the gall bladder, the common bile duct, the duodenum and the head of the pancreas, and sometimes including a part of the stomach. After which, the whole digestive system is reconstructed to restore its function. This procedure, also called pancreatoduodenectomy, has been the standard surgical treatment for pancreatic cancer.
In Loyola University Medical Center, a minimally invasive robotic surgical system is being utilized to perform the Whipple procedure. The telemedicine system only requires a 3 cm incision as opposed to the conventional open surgical operation which usually requires an incision of 8 to 10 cm long, and, if it deemed necessary, maybe longer than that.
Dr. Gerard Abood and Dr. Sam Pappas, partners in the Division of Surgical Oncology, have recently used the robotic system to operate on their patient with pancreatic tumor, which was said to be precancerous. The tumor was discovered after the patient had an attack of pancreatitis. The operation was successful with the patient being discharged six days after with complete recovery.
The use of robotic surgery is a viable alternative to open surgery since it is less invasive with less blood loss and the need for fewer pain medications. It also has less impact to the immune system with a faster recovery period for the patients.
Minimally invasive robotic surgeries are also being utilized by Drs. Abood and Pappas in other surgical procedures such as excision of tumors of the esophagus and the stomach. Through this technology the patient is expected to be able to undergo additional necessary cancer therapies after a quick and safe recovery from surgery.
The minimally invasive robotic system has also been used by Dr. Dana Hayden in performing an abdominoperineal resection in a patient diagnosed with rectal cancer. Five incisions were done, measuring only between 5mm and 1cm. The patient had complete recovery and was discharged after four days. Dr. Hayden pointed out that the use of the robotic system for colorectal surgery gives a better field of view during deep pelvic operations.