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Published on March 30, 2012

Ground-Breaking Robotic Surgery Advances at Bryan

Lung cancer caught at the first stage
Glennys Aguirre has a new appreciation for surgical robots.

She found out she had a nodule on her lung when she underwent a CT scan. It was confined to the top lobe of her right lung and in its early stage – a silver lining in the diagnosis.

First regional surgery of its kind

Her doctor referred her to Dr. Richard Thompson, Bryan Heart cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr. Thompson recommended a technique new to the Midwest but highly successful – using a robotic surgical tool for the surgery.

"My husband and I were very impressed with Dr. Thompson," Glennys said. "He met with us and said he wanted to use the robot, and explained why. I'm glad he did."

Dr. Thompson performed Glennys' lung lobectomy in February, making it the first of its kind in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas.

While robotic-assisted surgery is common for other procedures, these devices have assisted in only a few thousand operations to remove lobes, according to the manufacturer of the most widely used robotic device.

The benefits of new surgical technology

"Using the robotic technology has its advantages," Dr. Thompson said. "Such as almost never having to break a rib – a common necessity for conventional chest surgery." Traditionally, a surgeon makes a large incision in the chest, cuts a rib and spreads the chest open to operate on the lymph nodes.

With the new robotic technology, a surgeon is able to make smaller incisions, which leads to shorter hospital stays and recovery times, as well as lower blood loss during surgery.

A glimpse into the OR

As the first patient in the region to receive a robot-assisted lung lobectomy, Glennys and her husband got the chance to take a private tour of the operating room after her surgery to learn more. She was also able to see Dr. Thompson again.

Bryan assistant nurse manager James Oxford explained how the surgical robot was the extension of Dr. Thompson's hands, and displayed the robotic tools used to create the incisions and perform the surgery.

"I didn't realize how complex the surgery was and that the machine would be so complicated," Glennys said. "It's very impressive."

Cancer-free biopsy

And the best part, Glennys and her family received the results of the biopsy – she was cancer-free. No chemotherapy or other treatments would be necessary.

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