Jefferson Hospital Offers Robotic Assisted Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the first in the city to offer robotic esophageal mobilization surgery, using the da Vinci Robotic System. This procedure is ideal for esophageal cancer patients who require surgery to remove all or part of their esophagus.

It is a viable alternative to more invasive ‘open’ surgery and will allow the patient to recover faster and leave the hospital sooner. It improves on conventional minimally invasive techniques by decreasing the number of incisions required to perform the procedure.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer this type of procedure to the patients of the Delaware Valley and beyond,” says Benny Weksler, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Surgery. “Utilizing this technology not only reduces healing time and hospital stay, it also is significantly less painful, causes less scarring, reduces blood loss and in many cases, provides better clinical outcomes.”


During the procedure, the Jefferson surgeon uses the da Vinci system as part of the minimally invasive esophagectomy (the surgical removal of all or part of the esophagus). Robotic arms, with tiny cameras, are placed in the patient at the right chest.

Four small incisions are used. Once that is complete, the surgeon utilizes the articulated robotics instruments to guide the arms to the esophagus for its removal. The surgeon is then able to completely dissect the thoracic esophagus with four small incisions, allowing it to be successfully separated from the pericardium, the airway, the aorta and the thoracic duct. The procedure takes about two hours to perform.

Prior to this type of minimally invasive surgery, patients would have to undergo the more traditional and painful, open surgery where the surgery is performed through an incision in the right chest, using a rib spreader and occasionally removing a part of a rib. Patients will suffer significant postoperative pain and many times this will lead to prolonged hospital stay and even complications.

The minimally invasive-robotic approach decreases pain, complications and hospital stay and will not affect upper limb range of motion.


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