Understanding Thoracic Robotic Surgery

Biotechnology & Healthcare Robotic Surgery
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If you need thoracic (chest) surgery, UCLA is one of the most experienced centers in the world. Our thoracic robotic surgeons helped to develop robotic surgery since it became a major choice for surgeons as a form of treatment: UCLA thoracic robotic surgeons have been performing robotic chest procedures longer than anyone in California.  

What is Robotic Thoracic (Chest) Surgery?

As a team, we are committed to innovation and consistently improving surgical techniques in order to improve surgical outcomes. 

Meet our thoracic robotic surgeons »

What is Robotic Thoracic (Chest) Surgery?

In order to perform chest surgery, thoracic surgeons traditionally open the chest by making long incisions, cutting large chest wall muscles and spreading the ribs open, all of which lead to significant pain and a long recovery.

Today, UCLA thoracic robotic surgeons use the da Vinci surgical robot to:

  • Minimize surgical incisions and trauma
  • Improve surgical visualization
  • Improve surgical accuracy

The benefits for patients include:

  • Less surgical discomfort
  • Fewer infections
  • Less blood loss with fewer blood transfusions
  • Fewer days in the hospital due to an overall faster recovery

What chest procedures can be performed with thoracic robotic surgery?

Our surgeons perform minimally invasive surgeries for the following conditions and types of operations:

Chest Cancers:

  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Thymoma and Thymic Cancers
  • Chest Wall Cancers
  • Neurogenic Tumors (Combined with Neurosurgery if Necessary)
  • Other Mediastinal Cancers

Benign Conditions:

  • Thymectomy for Myasthenia Gravis
  • Diaphragm Plication for Diaphragm Paralysis
  • Hiatal and Paraesophageal Hernia Repair
  • Fundoplication for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Heller Myotomy for Achalasia
  • Diverticulectomy for Esophageal Diverticula
  • First Rib Removal for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Mediastinal Procedures for a Variety of Conditions

Why Choose UCLA for Thoracic Robotic Surgery?

At UCLA, we take great pride in our thoracic robotic surgery program. First, we eliminate the use of many of the typical drainage incisions that traditional thoracic surgery involves. Eliminating these incisions means that you get better faster, and sometimes only have small bandages over your surgery site.

Second, we have a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who specialize specifically and exclusively in the care of chest surgery patients, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, pathologists, pain specialists, radiologists, nurse practitioners, OR and floor nurses, care partners, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers, and administrative assistants.

Finally, our surgeons are constantly striving to improve outcomes and minimize side effects through robotic research, which is facilitated by the UCLA Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT).

Why is Robotic Chest Surgery Better?

The da Vinci surgical robot operates through small incisions where the only tissue that is “cut” is the skin, since deeper tissues are gently spread apart. The surgical robot is designed to move around a pivot point near the patient’s ribs, which minimizes the physical pressure on the patient’s sensitive tissues and nerves. Both of these factors are significant advantages that minimize pain and speed recovery.

The da Vinci surgical robot offers three-dimensional imaging, image magnification, scalable motion, as well as 7 degrees of freedom in manipulating the surgical “wrists” all of which serve to provide our surgeons with the ability to perform procedures with unparalleled accuracy. It is important to understand that the surgical robot is merely an advanced surgical tool. Most simply, the robot is a miniaturized extension of the surgeon’s arms and hands, providing the surgeon with the ability to perform complex surgical procedures through tiny incisions when previously large incisions were required.

Learn more about robotic surgery »

Is robotic surgery right for me?

Only an experienced thoracic robotic surgeon can make the determination if a robotic approach is right for you and your specific condition. UCLA thoracic robotic surgeons are available to discuss your specific condition and to carefully outline when and how the surgical robot can be used.

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