PROVIDENCE – Last month, the chest surgery using robotic technology was performed for the first time in the state at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. The minimally invasive procedure is much less painful for the patient and greatly reduces the length of their hospital stay, said Dr. Okereke, chief of thoracic surgery, who performed the first procedure. A total of four robotic chest surgeries now have been successfully completed, Okereke said.
The first patient had a tumor right next to her heart, in the middle of her chest, which in traditional surgery, would have required splitting open her breast bone, Okereke said. But the robotic technology allowed him to remove the tumor with just a few small incisions between the patient’s ribs.
Okereke said that Miriam hopes to significantly increase its use of robotic surgery, as the impact on patients is less than with traditional surgery. For example, the patient with the tumor near her hear went home after two days in the hospital, if she had received traditional surgery, she would have stayed for five to six days, Okereke said.
With regards to the operating room, because of the robotic machinery, the procedure costs “a little more,” he said. But the overall cost of surgery is “dramatically reduced” because of the shorter hospital stay, he said.
Every patient is a potential candidate for robotic thoracic surgery, Okereke said. He and his fellow thoracic surgeon Thomas Ng take into account a patient’s medical history and anatomy to determine whether robotic surgery is safe. Other robot-assisted procedures currently performed at The Miriam Hospital include renal, gynecologic and prostate surgeries.