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Robotic lung cancer surgery is a success

A 39-YEAR-OLD woman underwent robotic surgery to remove a cancerous section of her lung at Shanghai Chest Hospital yesterday, the first robot-assisted lung cancer surgery to be carried out on China's mainland.

Aided by the da Vinci Surgical System, the world's most advanced robotic surgical system, doctors were able to carry out the minimally invasive operation, without resorting to the traditional open-chest method.

Two hospitals in Beijing used the da Vinci system last year and early this year for heart and liver surgery.

Shanghai Chest Hospital is the first on the mainland to use the system for lung cancer surgery.

"Compared with heart and liver surgery, operating on the lung is more difficult due to its complex network of blood vessels and tracheas," said Dr Luo Qingquan, one of the two chief surgeons at yesterday's surgery.

Compared with the traditional method of opening a patient's chest to remove cancerous lung tissue, the robotic system imposes less trauma, opens smaller holes and ensures better surgical results as the instruments can turn at any angle and reach areas where a surgeon's hands cannot.

During yesterday's surgery, doctors only made four 1-centimeter holes in the chest of the patient, who is in the early stages of lung cancer. The procedure was complete in two hours.

Developed by NASA, the Pentagon and universities in the United States, the da Vinci Surgical System has been used in many developed countries such as the US and Japan for complex surgery.

Shanghai Chest Hospital spent US$2.67 million installing the system two weeks ago.

The da Vinci system is controlled by a surgeon from a console in the same operating room as the patient. Four robotic arms perform the operation on the patient.

Three of the arms are equipped with surgical tools and the fourth is an °?endoscopic camera.


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