Madrid, March 22 2022.- The Hepato-bilio-pancreatic Surgery (HBP) Unit at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid has performed two joint operations simultaneously on the same cancer patient, thanks to the use of the Da Vinci robot. One of the main advantages of this novel intervention is that it has made it possible to reduce the time between surgical procedures so that the 76-year-old patient was discharged in less than a week and is currently recovering satisfactorily.
This point is highlighted by Dr. Oscar Alonso, head of Hepato-bilio-pancreatic Surgery at MD Anderson Madrid and in charge of directing the joint operation on the liver and rectum: "The fact that the patient recovers from the surgery and wounds quickly means that, if the patient needs chemotherapy later, you can start treatment earlier.” Furthermore, "as it is a less aggressive intervention, it allows the patient to return to an active life sooner".
The Da Vinci robot lends a high degree of maneuverability of the instruments controlled by the surgeon from a console, as well as excellent 3D visualization of anatomical structures. Hence, a minimally invasive approach can be performed to radically remove the tumors correctly, through fine dissections. Although, as the doctor points out, "obviously, there must be teams trained in handling the robot, for which specific training is needed." In fact, Dr. Alonso acknowledges that the Da Vinci robot is not yet available at many centers in Spain.
Indeed, this technology also allows surgery on the digestive system in conjunction with other specialties. This means that the time involved is reduced, which benefits the patient in the operating room and after surgery by avoiding two separate surgical interventions with the corresponding recovery periods, to then go through chemotherapy again. So, "there must be, whether we work with urologists, or with other specialties, that possibility of using the robot and that necessary training", stresses the surgeon.
Suitable candidates for this type of treatment
The selection of patients who can be operated on in this way is another key factor and, for that reason, Dr. Alonso highlights the capacity of MD Anderson Madrid to work with a multidisciplinary team, which involves all relevant specialists to draw up the best treatment plan for each specific case, since this "often involves not only surgery, but also chemotherapy, radiotherapy, nutrition, an endoscopy intervention and so on," he points out.
In addition, “unfortunately, the colorectal and liver surgery teams are usually trained separately and the specialty of digestive oncologic surgery as such does not exist in Spain. At MD Anderson Madrid, however, treating cancer patients exclusively, we are trained in digestive oncologic surgery and are able to treat both colon cancer and liver metastases”.
Thus, with regard to the hospital's Surgical Oncology Service, patients who may be candidates for this type of simultaneous surgery are those who "have colon cancer and liver metastases that are resectable in a single surgical procedure," specifies the surgeon. They are people, therefore, who can greatly benefit from this advance by reducing the aggression of the operation with minimally invasive surgery, as well as the possible worsening "in an elderly patient, or in someone who has some respiratory pathology in which a laparotomy would cause complications, or any other disease that increases risk in the postoperative period”, concludes the doctor.
In the field of oncology, the possibilities offered by the Da Vinci robot for the patient are almost unlimited, because it allows minimally invasive with the same or better capacity for movement within the abdominal cavity than that offered by open surgery or laparoscopy. Currently, it is becoming consolidated as a treatment for most tumor pathologies, especially in the field of Urology, Gynecology, Digestive surgery and thoracic surgery.