The benefits and positive outcomes of da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery are well documented, including significantly smaller incisions, less blood loss, reduced pain, and faster recovery.

Lancaster General Health has one of the most comprehensive robotic surgery programs in the region and was the first in Lancaster County to use the da Vinci Surgical System for cardiothoracic surgery. Our robotic-assisted cardiothoracic procedures include:

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)

Lancaster General Hospital became the first hospital in the county to offer robotic-assisted minimally invasive heart bypass surgery, when Jeffrey Cope, MD, of Lancaster General Health Physicians Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed the first coronary artery bypass graft in November 2010.

Traditional bypass surgery involves cutting the breast bone, which can lead to post-operative bleeding. Some 25 to 50% of patients may also require a blood transfusion. Typically, patients are in the hospital five to six days following surgery, with a recovery time of four to six weeks.

With da Vinci CABG surgery, patients can go home in as little to two to three days, and recovery is reduced to about two to four weeks. The incision consists of just a few tiny punctures. In addition, the patient is not on a heart-lung machine, so the risk of complications is much lower.

Cardiac Hybrid Revascularization

In addition to CABG, Lancaster General Health offers hybrid revascularization, a procedure that combines open-heart surgery with the placement of a stent to open blocked vessels in the heart. First, the surgeon performs a bypass to the vessel in front of the heart. Later, the patient returns to receive a stent in the vessel in the back of the heart. (This vessel is not easily reached with robotic-assisted surgery.)

Lobectomy

Lobectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat lung cancer. It involves removal of up to one-half of the lung. Traditionally, this procedure involved large incisions on the side and the back. Robotically-assisted lobectomy allows the surgeon to reduce the spreading of the ribs, and use much smaller incisions with less post-operative pain and a reduced hospital stay. It is available for select patients who meet the clinical criteria.

Lung Biopsy

Lung biopsies are performed to detect the presence of cancer in a nodule or to determine the stage and type of lung cancer. This procedure was previously done thoracoscopically (using an endoscope inserted through the chest wall into the chest cavity) with a camera. The use of the da Vinci Surgical System allows for a smaller incision and therefore less trauma and pain.

Thymectomy

This procedure removes the thymus and is used to treat anterior mediastinal masses and myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. Traditional thymectomy used a transsternal approach, or cutting of the breast bone. With the use of the da Vinci Surgical System, the thoracic surgeon is now able to use three small incisions, resulting in less pain and trauma and a quicker recovery period.

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