Surgeons Perform First Robotic Procedure in San Diego

UCSD Health System surgeons performed the first robotic gastrectomy in the San Diego area on Sept. 17. Gastrectomies are a procedure that removes part or all of the stomach of patients diagnosed with gastric cancer. Surgeons use a da Vinci surgical system — created to remove malignant tissue, operate reconstruction and extract lymph nodes for testing.

“The patients who are well suited for robotic gastrectomy are people who are in early stages of the disease,” UCSD surgical oncologist Dr. Kaitlyn Kelly said. “I thought doing the procedure robotically, which is a minimally invasive way, allowed people a quicker recovery than open surgery and would be a better option for her.”

Kelly performed the operation on a woman who was in the early stages of gastric cancer. During surgery, Kelly removed the lymph nodes, and, afterward, the pathology showed that the lymph nodes did not have cancer in them.

“She went home on the fifth day following surgery and began a regular diet with no problem, and she has very tiny incisions.” Kelly said.

Kelly previously performed the surgery while training in New York, though robotic gastrectomies are not very common in the United States.

Gastrectomies can be performed as open surgery, laparoscopic surgery or robot surgery; laparoscopic and robotic are the least invasive. In laparoscopic surgery, vision is two dimensional, as opposed to the robotic surgery, where vision is three dimensional.

“I am hoping to incorporate the robot where I think it is appropriate in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers,” Kelly said.

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