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Robotic Thoracic Surgery at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's

For the patient, robotic surgery offers all the potential benefits of a minimally invasive procedure, including less pain, less blood loss and less need for blood transfusions. Also, patients who undergo robotic surgery often have shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries and faster returns to normal daily activities.

Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s was the first da Vinci Robotic Surgical Systemhospital in Milwaukee to utilize the da Vinci® Surgical System with 3D high definition. The 3D, high-definition viewing capabilities enable surgeons to more clearly view the surgical field, differentiate between diseased and non-diseased tissue, and complete delicate procedures with tremendous precision. Despite its name, the da Vinci Surgical System is not an automatic robot, but rather a state-of-the-art tool.

Additional advantages of robotic surgery include:

  • Decreased blood loss during surgery
  • Shortened length of hospital stay
  • Decreased post-operative pain
  • Less scarring
  • Faster return to regular activities
  • Less risk of wound infection


Individual results may vary. Always ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of all available treatment options.

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Thoracic Surgery Using The da Vinci

Thoracic surgery is the repair of organs located in the thorax, or chest. The thoracic cavity lies between the neck and the diaphragm, and contains the heart and lungs (cardiopulmonary system), the esophagus, trachea, pleura, chest wall, and diaphragm. Thoracic surgery repairs diseased or injured organs and tissues in the thoracic cavity. General thoracic surgery deals specifically with disorders of the lungs and esophagus.

Thoracic surgical procedures being performed at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s with the da VinciRobotic Surgical System include:

Heller Myotomy — A Heller myotomy is a surgical procedure to treat achalasia, a condition in which the patient has problems swallowing food. When food arrives at the end of the esophagus, the muscular valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to relax to allow food into the stomach. To treat achalasia, the muscle around the gastroesophageal junction must be cut to limit its ability to block the passage of food.

Esophagogastrectomy — An Esophagogastrectomy is surgery to remove the esophagus and part of the stomach. The esophagus is then replaced in one of two ways: by moving the remaining portion of the stomach upwards, or by replacing it with a section of the large bowel (colonic reconstruction). This surgery is typically done for people with esophageal cancer or people with Barrett’s Esophagitis who are at high risk for developing esophageal cancer. This operation removes the diseased portion of the esophagus.

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Benefits of Robotic Thoracic Surgery

If your doctor recommends thoracic surgery, you may be a candidate for a robotic surgery. Robotic surgery offers numerous potential benefits over a conventional surgery, including:

  • Significantly less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Shorter recovery time

As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed for every patient. Also, robotic surgery is not an option for every patient. Please discuss your options as well as potential risks and benefits of all types of surgery with your physician.


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Robotic Surgeon for Thoracic Surgery

Daryl Pearlstein, MD - Robotic Thoracic Surgeon

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know if I am a candidate for robotic thoracic surgery?
A: It depends on why you need surgery. The only way to know is to ask. But most people should be a candidate.

Q: Will my insurance cover robotic surgery?
A: The majority of insurance companies pay for this surgery as they would conventional surgery, however there are exceptions. Please consult with your insurance carrier to confirm your coverage.

Q: How long do the operations take?
A: The time varies. Sometimes only an hour and some may be 5 hours.

Q: How long can I expect to stay in the hospital after my procedure?
A: The vast majority will go home the next morning. Some will go home the same day.

Q: After the surgery, when will I be able to resume normal activities?
A: Some of the major advantages of this surgery are decreased bleeding and decreased pain which results in a faster and easier recuperation time. Most individuals will be able to resume normal activities within a few days of surgery.

Q: How long can I expect to be off work after the procedure?
A: You should be able to resume normal activities in two weeks. However, this varies by patient and should be discussed with your physician.



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