Robots killing cancer - It's happening right here by Jorge Lagares-Garcia, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Imagine a long line of school buses – 1,200 of them – all packed full of adults. That’s how many people are expected to die of colon cancer in the U.S. this year – about 50,000.
But right here in the Lowcountry we are saving more and more of the people who have the disease with a revolutionary surgery. I was fortunate to be the first surgeon to perform this procedure in South Carolina at Roper Hospital which integrates robotic technology in colorectal surgery.
The da Vinci Surgical System is a robot-assisted, minimally invasive tool that enables doctors to perform delicate and complex operations via tiny incisions with breakthrough vision, precision, dexterity and control.
It is important for patients considering this surgery to know that robotic-assisted surgery provides surgeons with a higher level of visualization and therefore, accuracy. The process involves the injection of a fluorescent dye that helps surgeons identify healthy, viable tissue. Use of this imaging technology will potentially lower the risk of leaks in the reconstructed tissue and help prevent the need for multiple surgeries saving millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Roper Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to utilize a da Vinci robot outfitted with Firefly fluorescence imaging to help make colon cancer surgery less invasive. With the integration of Firefly fluorescence imaging, we can observe tissue even more clearly, further improving surgical precision. Our team performed the first Firefly surgery in South Carolina in early 2012. Recently we participated in an international study using the Firefly fluorescence imaging. We determined that the enhanced imaging is effective with outcomes that exceed the prior results.
Surgeons from around the country are now coming to Roper Hospital to learn from us as we have earned the distinction of being named a da Vinci Surgical System Colorectal Epicenter. Most importantly, our patients are experiencing the benefits of less blood loss, a quicker return to normal activities, bowel functions and diets, less pain and scarring and shorter hospital stays.
This is great news for our patients; however, it is important to remember that prevention is the key to living a healthy life. As we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, adults aged 50 and older should remember to meet with their doctors and develop a screening plan based on family and personal medical history, lifestyle and other risk factors. Colorectal cancer can be prevented but it’s good to know that if it strikes, there are new options for greater surgical success.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lagares-Garcia call Charleston Colorectal Surgery at (843) 958-1281.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare