New York Methodist Hospital at the Forefront of Robotic Assisted Surgery

Surgeons at New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) performed their first robotic-assisted surgery in 2009 – and they haven’t stopped since. Reflecting the latest advances in technology, NYM has expanded its Robotic Surgery Program to include more applications and to treat more conditions than ever before.

“We’ve already performed hundreds of operations, and they’ve all not only been successful, there has been much less pain for the patients, very little scarring, a shorter stay and earlier return to their normal activities,” said Anthony Tortolani, M.D., chairman of surgery.

“With the da Vinci robotic surgical system, only a small incision is necessary to obtain a 3D image of the trouble area,” continued Richard Lazzaro, M.D., chief of thoracic surgery at NYM. “Because of this technology, we are able to complete a surgical procedure on just the targeted section, with minimal disruption to surrounding tissues.”

The robotic surgical system is being used at NYM in a range of specialties, including thoracic surgery, urology, surgical oncology, gynecology and bariatric surgery. In fact, the hospital was recently named a Center of Excellence Epicenter for Robotic Thoracic Surgery. NYM is the first hospital in the northeast and only the third in the United States to receive the accolade. Epicenter designation signifies that NYM is qualified to train other surgeons from throughout the world in the use of the robotic surgery system.

Robotic-assisted surgery has most frequently been associated with urologic procedures, specifically those involving the prostate. Compared to traditional prostatectomy, robotic-assisted prostate removal allows for a faster recovery, a decreased chance of erectile dysfunction, and a reduced chance of permanent incontinence.

New York Methodist Hospital is also the first hospital in Brooklyn to offer two innovative treatments for bladder cancer: laparoscopic cystectomy and neobladder reconstruction, which are performed using robotic technology. The first operation involves the removal of the entire cancerous bladder (cystectomy), and the second involves the creation of a new bladder (neobladder) from a portion of the patient’s small intestine. Additional urologic surgeries that utilize the robotic surgical system include ureter implants, restoring shape to the vaginal canal, and removal of the kidney and adrenal glands.

Minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery in gynecology and gynecologic oncology also yields impressive results. Total and partial hysterectomy, resection of endometriosis, removal of pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes for gynecologic cancer and myomectomy to remove the ovaries are some of the procedures that can be performed using the robotic surgical system, resulting in less discomfort to the patient and a shorter hospital stay.

One of the newest applications is in the field of bariatric surgery and the treatment of obesity. NYM is one of a small group of hospitals in the country to offer robotic gastric bypass surgery to help obese patients achieve significant weight loss. “With less post-operative symptoms and a shorter recovery time, minimally invasive bariatric surgery can be a good option for many obese patients who need to lose a significant amount of weight,” said Steven J. Carryl, M.D., attending surgeon at NYM.

“I can confidently say that robotic-assisted surgery combines the best of the human touch and technological expertise,” Dr. Lazzaro said. “This approach is now tried and tested, and we’ve seen that it provides excellent results.”

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