Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum), or CRC, strikes 140,000 Americans each year and is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. The specific robotic procedure used to treat colorectal cancer depends on the location of the tumor. If the cancer occurs in the ascending colon (which runs up the right side of the lower abdomen), a right hemicolectomy will be performed, in which the diseased portion of colon is surgically removed and the rest of the colon sutured back together. If the tumor is in the descending colon, which runs down the left side of the abdomen, a similar procedure called a left hemicolectomy is done. For tumors in the middle of the colon (transverse colon) a transverse colon resection is done.
The robotic approach is highly effective for these procedures. The 3-D, high-definition image of the operating field provided by the da Vinci Si surgical robot facilitates the visualization of tissue in difficult locations such as the deep pelvis, allowing for more precise dissections and suturing and less blood loss. This can translate to better patient outcomes in many situations. Robotic colon resection also offers the advantages of minimally invasive surgery, including shorter hospital stays, less postoperative pain and quicker convalescence. In addition, for those patients in need of additional treatments to treat their colon cancer after surgery, minimally invasive techniques can help get them to those treatments more quickly.
The GI/hepatobiliary surgical oncologists at NYU Langone Medical Center are among the first in the New York area to use the da Vinci robot for these applications, and are developing a comprehensive minimally-invasive and robotic program to treat all gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.