Gastrointestinal surgeons at UC San Francisco have performed the first pure robotically assisted Whipple surgery in San Francisco. The surgery was recently performed on a 77-year-old pancreatic cancer patient by surgeons Mohamed Adam, MD, and Adnan Alseidi, MD, MEd, FACS.
A “Whipple” procedure, also called a pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a complex abdominal procedure mainly performed for cancers in the pancreas and surrounding area. The surgery involves removing parts of the pancreas, small intestine, gallbladder and bile duct to treat tumors in these areas. After the resections are performed, the surgeon will reconnect the affected organs to ensure food can be properly digested.
Robotically assisted surgery allows surgeons to perform complex surgical procedures like the Whipple in a minimally invasive manner. In a traditional, open surgery, a surgeon makes a large incision to remove and reconstruct the organs and tissues. In robotic Whipple surgery, the surgeon creates smaller incisions guided by a camera as well as robotic arms and instruments.
Use of the robot during surgery improves visualization of the surgical field through 10X magnification in 3D and enhances dexterity for manipulation and dissection of tissue with greater precision. While robotic instruments manipulate tissue, surgeons use the robotic surgical system to guide the robotic arms and movements of the surgical instruments.
“Robotically assisted Whipple surgery allows us to make even smaller incisions with greater precision,” said Alseidi, UCSF professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Surgery. “By using robotic arms, we have more degrees of articulation than with our natural wrists. Ultimately, this translates into more precise surgery with faster recovery.”
Thanks to these innovations, patients have fewer complications and can be discharged within three-to-four days. Since having the surgery, the patient is at home and his recovery is going well.
“The robotically assisted Whipple is a very desirable alternative to open surgery for some patients" said Adam, UCSF associate professor of surgery and specialist in robotic gastrointestinal cancer surgery. “The minimally invasive nature of the procedure means less pain and a reduced healing time for the patient.”
Other robotic surgeries currently being performed through UCSF’s Robotic Surgery Program encompass a wide range of specialties and procedures, including removing cancerous tissue from the pancreas, lungs, uterus, ovaries, colon, rectum, esophagus, bladder, prostate, head and neck, and liver. Other robotic surgeries are used for the treatment of uterine fibroids and endometriosis, female pelvic organ prolapse repairs, mitral valve repairs, hernia repairs and bariatric surgery.
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