Robert DeFatta, MD, PhD, ENT, a surgeon at the Head and Neck Center at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, praises the da Vinci robot as the vehicle for entering a "new era" of treatment that, among other things, reduces the amount of chemotherapy needed in treatment. In addition, it has mitigated the need for feeding tubes, and enabled patients to return to normal speech and swallowing soon after surgery, tells HealthLeaders Media.
With the robot and the so-called Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS), DeFatta says he can reach into areas of the throat that were virtually inaccessible before, while maneuvering the da Vinci device and treating patients in that delicate area with precision, control, and ease. Benefits to the patient include shorter hospital stays, easier recovery, less tissue damage, and lower risk of infection.
In the past, cancers of the throat were treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, which frequently resulted in the patient needing a feeding tube for the rest of his or her life, DeFatta says.
The conventional open surgery for tumors involving the throat typically required a large incision that produced significant cosmetic deformity, as well as the possibility of speech and swallowing problems.
"There's no way you can visualize it as well as you can with the da Vinci," DeFatta says, referring to the doctor's view of the surgery procedure. "It's a three-dimensional view of what you have." These patients cannot swallow, they cannot go out to eat with their families. When you turn to the da Vinci, you can take out the tumor with lower amounts of radiation, a lower dose of chemo, and for thousands of people, that's a huge difference."
"I can only speak for what I do," DeFatta says. For surgeons in his field, "by not using it they are missing the boat," he adds.