Single-port robotic surgery speeds recovery for prostate cancer patient

UT Southwestern has become the first medical center in Texas to use a robotic tool that allows surgeons to perform complicated operations using just a single incision.

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When Rafael Roa of Colleyville learned he had prostate cancer, he was understandably nervous. “When someone tells you that you have cancer, many things go through your head. But this cancer, in particular, is something you don’t want to talk about,” said the 57-year-old global technology service company executive. “For a Latin male, maybe for any male, there are psychological effects.”

It eased Mr. Roa’s mind a bit to learn that his surgery could be done using a new robotic surgery device. The technology allows for all of the necessary surgical tools to be inserted through one 1-inch hole, whereas standard laparoscopic surgery requires five or six small incisions. Dr. Jeffrey Cadeddu, Professor of Urology and Radiology, was the first to use the new single-port robotic surgical device in Texas. When the surgeon described the new robotic surgery device and what it could do, Mr. Roa thought carefully. “I’ve been around technology all of my life. I wondered, ‘Is this technology too new?’ But then I spoke with my cousin, who is a physician, and he assured me that this was a good option, that it would lower the chances of complications.”

Cadeddu said the idea of reducing the number of incisions arose about 10 years ago. “Every hole you create in a patient has a risk associated with it. Every incision means increased pain, increased risk of hitting a blood vessel.

The single-incision laparoscopic surgery was performed using a robotic device called the SP (Single Port) Robot that has four arms that insert through a single 1-inch hole. Intuitive Surgical Inc., the company that makes the SP Robot, is initially rolling it out to a handful of medical centers, including UT Southwestern, which is one of the nation’s leading medical centers in robotic surgeries performed. So far, fewer than 10 medical institutions around the world are using the single-incision robot.

Cadeddu made a small incision, about 1-inch wide above the belly button. A port was inserted and then Dr. Cadeddu stepped over to the controls of the robot. Using the robot controls, four surgical instruments were “docked.” An additional surgical instrument was inserted that Dr. Cadeddu controlled using a magnet on the surface of Mr. Roa’s abdomen. Dr. Cadeddu is a pioneer in magnet-controlled surgical instruments and he incorporates a magnetic-controlled instrument in all of his single-incision surgeries, giving him five surgical tools to work with. All told, the surgery to remove the cancerous prostate tissue from Mr. Roa took about three hours.

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