Robots have always been a staple for science fiction movies, but the robots at New York Methodist Hospital are not for the silver screen, but rather for the operating room.
Meet the newest member of the hospital staff: the daVinci surgical system, a powerful tool used for minimally invasive thoracic surgery.
Richard S. Lazzaro, M.D., the chief of thoracic surgery, which is the treatment of chest diseases in the heart, lungs, chest wall and diaphragm, introduced the robot to last year.
Thanks to the implementation of the robot-assisted thoracic surgery the Seventh Avenue hospital, between Sixth and Seventh streets, was recently named a Center of Excellence Epicenter for Robotic Thoracic Surgery. New York Methodist became the first such center in the Northeast and the third in the United States.
"The robot overcomes the limitations of traditional technology and helps physicians to perform complex surgery in new ways," said Dr. Lazzaro, who has performed over 3,000 minimally invasive procedures and is board-certified in thoracic and general surgery.
"One of the benefits in introducing robot-assisted surgery to NYM is that now approximately 90 percent of our patients are treated using minimally invasive techniques,” said Dr. Lazzaro, who was trained to perform the robotic-assisted procedures by Dr. James Luketich, who was one of the pioneers of robotic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “This means that 90 percent of our patients are healing more quickly and leaving the Hospital faster. These are only some of the benefits of robotic technology."
The hospital, which has 651 beds and serves over 36,000 inpatients each year, will also become a training facility for physicians from all over the nation to observe the cutting-edge robotic thoracic surgery.
Dr. Lazzaro performed the first daVinci robotic pneumonectomy (the removal of a lung) in the five boroughs and he also performed one of the first daVinci video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomies, which is the removal of a lobe of the lung, in the United States.
The daVinci robotic system decreases risk for surgery and increases precision. The robotic system provides three-dimensional visualization, which enhances dexterity and enables the surgeon to operate through small keyhole incisions, lowering the need for open surgery.
Minimally invasive surgery can decrease bleeding, decrease the need for blood transfusions and can pose less of a detrimental effect to a patient’s immune system. Because of the improved medical techniques, patients who are operated on by the daVinci robotic system experience less pain, have a shorter hospital stay and can return to their normal activities much quicker.
Robotic surgery is also used in urology, gynecology and gynecologic oncology surgery at New York Methodist Hospital.
"We are extremely grateful to Dr. Lazzaro for introducing robotic-assisted surgery for the performance of minimally invasive major thoracic procedures, to NYM," said Dr. Anthony J. Tortolani, the chairman of surgery and chairman of cardiothoracic surgery. "We are also excited that NYM will initiate educational programs across the New York metro area to increase awareness of the surgical practice."