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Hospital’s robotic surgery program sees rapid growth in specialty areas

New Britain [December 21 2012] - The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s quickly growing robotic surgery program is now one of only a handful in the state offering robotic surgery to treat sleep apnea, head and neck cancers, and provide single-incision gallbladder removal.

Nearly 400 robotic surgery procedures have been performed at HOCC since robotic surgery began at the hospital in 2010, and with continued expansion in specialty areas expected, the hospital recently acquired a second robotic surgery system. At HOCC, robotic surgery is used in gynecologic, urologic, colorectal, general surgery, otolaryngological (ear, nose, throat) and oncologic procedures.

Robotic surgery uses a minimally invasive approach, requires fewer incisions and can mean less pain, blood loss and scarring, as well as a shorter hospital stay and quicker return to normal activities. “I think robotic surgery is exploding,” says James Massi, M.D., chief of Surgery, of the advanced form of minimally invasive surgery. “Initially its use was really limited to urology, then gynecology. But now it’s expanding into all the surgical specialties.”

In mid-December, otolaryngologist Louis Petcu, M.D., F.A.C.S., who recently joined HOCC’s medical staff, performed the hospital’s first trans-oral robotic surgery case. This technique does not require an incision and is used primarily to treat head and neck cancers affecting the pharynx, tongue and larynx as well as refractory obstructive sleep apnea.

Trans-oral robotic surgery may be appropriate for sleep apnea patients not treated successfully with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask or other treatment. During this surgery, says Petcu, the physician maneuvers two robotic arms within the mouth and removes part of the tongue and/or part of the cartilage covering the trachea (i.e., epiglottis); surgical area is viewed via telescope. Recovery is seven to 10 days and is similar to that of a tonsillectomy.

“Trans-oral robotic surgery is a type of robotic surgery which is incisionless and minimally invasive,” says Petcu. “It avoids extensive surgical procedures like tracheotomy and can be performed with decreased pain and faster return to normal function.”

In November, HOCC surgical oncologist Bret Schipper, M.D., performed single-incision robotic surgery to remove a gallbladder (cholecystectomy). “Robotic surgery allows you to do complex single site surgery safer and easier than a standard single incision approach,” says Schipper, adding that the surgical scar from the gallbladder procedure using robotic surgery is about three centimeters and can be hidden in the belly button.

During robotic surgery, a surgeon sits at a console equipped with controls the surgeon uses to manipulate robotic arms fitted with special surgical instruments that precisely reproduce the movement of the human hand, wrist and fingers. The surgeon views a magnified, high-resolution, 3D image of the surgical site.

Schipper, who learned robotic surgery during a fellowship, also performs robotic surgery for pancreatic and gastric procedures. “I think it’s a growing field that will continue to grow and become more applicable in different surgical procedures as the technology continues to improve.”

Other surgeons who perform robotic surgery at HOCC are gynecologic oncologist Xun Clare Zhou, M.D.; obstetrician/gynecologists Richard J. Dreiss, M.D., Rachel Lamonica, D.O., Anthony A. Luciano, M.D., FACOG, FACE, Danielle E. Luciano, M.D., FACOG, and Gerard M. Roy, M.D.; urologist Joshua Stein, M.D., and colorectal surgeon Christine M. Bartus, M.D., FASCRS.

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, X6507














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