da Vinci® Robotic Lung Surgery

Robert Linker, MD, is the first thoracic surgeon in Louisville to perform a pulmonary lobectomy utilizing the da Vinci® Surgical System at Baptist Hospital East.

A pulmonary lobectomy is one of the most common lung cancer treatments. The procedure involves the surgical removal of the lobe of the lung for patients with early stage, non-small cell lung cancer.

Traditional lobectomy requires a large, eight- to 10-inch incision, which can result in substantial blood loss and a lengthy and uncomfortable recovery. Utilizing the da Vinci robotic surgical system enables surgeons to operate through a few small incisions, without spreading the ribs. Dr. Linker sees this technology as the next step in the evolution of Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery, or VATS.

The robot allows for more precise movements and control, especially around the large blood vessels, and improves visualization of the lung’s anatomy. Surgeons describe looking through the high-definition camera in 3D as being similar to seeing the lung during an open operation.

Patients also highly recommend the procedure. One patient, who returned home after just four days in the hospital said, “Recovery has gone well. There has been very little pain, and I noticed an improvement in my breathing right away. It’s still a little tender, but I am back to my normal routine and enjoying my life every day.”

In addition to avoiding the pain and trauma of a thoracotomy (cracking and spreading of the ribs), studies have shown that lung cancer treatment with a da Vinci pulmonary lobectomy can provide patients with several benefits over open surgery, including:

  • Less blood loss and need for blood transfusions
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain and scarring
  • Faster recovery and return to normal activities
  • Faster return of pulmonary function

Patients have experienced less post-operative pain and a quicker return of pulmonary function. Studies also suggest lower cancer recurrence in patients with advanced disease due to better removal of lymph nodes with this procedure.