Organ transplants are notoriously complex surgeries — and replacing a patient’s lung is no exception. But as technology continues to advance, surgical teams are making the most of the latest tools at their disposal.
The Da Vinci code
That brings us to a groundbreaking procedure recently conducted in Spain. According to reports, a robotic device affectionately referred to as Da Vinci has successfully conducted a lung transplant without needing to break ribs in the process.
The traditional method involves cutting through the rib cage, but Da Vinci can achieve the same result with a less invasive strategy.
According to Dr. Albert Jauregui of Vall d’Hebron Hospital (where the transplant took place), the new procedure involves making an initial incision under the patient’s sternum.
“This allows us to open only the skin, and to insert this lung little by little," he explained.
By essentially deflating the donated lung, it can be inserted through a cut that measures just over three inches.
A speedier recovery
With less trauma to the body, experts say patients will generally have a better post-op prognosis and experience less pain overall.
Naturally, Jauregui is optimistic that this process will soon begin to spread to other hospitals around the world.
Robots are already being used extensively in a variety of medical procedures, from pediatrics to cardiology. But the success of Da Vinci in completely automating such a significant task is a giant leap forward.
A robotic surgical system was employed to assist in a lung transplant at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, but it only provided limited assistance to surgeons in that case.
As for the patient who received his lung via robot, 65-year-old Xavier said: “From the moment I regained consciousness and woke up from general anasthesia, I had zero pain.”