Oct. 19, 2017

Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital expands surgical options for pancreatic cancer

Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital has expanded surgical options for pancreatic cancer patients with the recent addition of minimally invasive robotic surgery.

"Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive cancer. If there are five people diagnosed, only one of the five is a candidate for surgery," says David Kooby, MD, director of surgical oncology at Winship at Emory Saint Joseph's, explaining that pancreatic cancer is often not discovered until it is too late for surgical intervention to have a curative effect. Until recently, patients who were candidates for surgery only had two options: traditional open abdominal surgery or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.

"Robotic surgery is a newer surgical option," says Kooby. The technical aspects of this surgery are pretty similar to open abdominal surgery, but without making a big incision."

During robotic surgery, the surgeon controls surgical instruments on thin robotic arms from a specially-designed computer console with three-dimensional viewing that provides increased depth perception. "The robot can handle very complex tasks such as suturing blood vessels and peeling tumors away from structures," says Kooby. Patients benefit from this type of surgery by experiencing less pain and having a faster recovery time.

"The key with pancreatic surgeries is to catch it early and follow up," says patient Helen Byrne, a nurse who knows the importance of early detection. After visiting a physician for a totally unrelated abdominal pain, an MRI detected a cyst on her pancreas, and Byrne was informed she was a candidate for minimally invasive robotic surgery. "Robotic surgery made a difference for me in my recovery and it hardly slowed me down at all," she says.

For more information about robotic surgery for pancreatic cancer, call (404) 778-8059.

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