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New Robotic Liver Procedure Results in Faster Recovery for Cancer Patient

Recovering from traditional surgery can be difficult for anyone. For patients who need chemotherapy and other cancer-fighting medications, extended recovery time can also delay receiving medical treatments that are an important part of a patient’s cancer care.

First Robotic Liver Procedure in Boston

Jane Tolmie, a 70-year-old Vermont resident, had previously been diagnosed with colon cancer. Subsequent imaging showed that the cancer had spread to her liver. She went to see Dr. Thomas Clancy, Associate Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), about treatment options and was found to be a good candidate for liver resection to remove her tumor.

In order to avoid a lengthy recovery process and to utilize the newest minimally invasive technology, Dr. Clancy performed the first robotic hepatectomy in Boston using five tiny incisions. Jane returned home just a few days after the procedure and was driving again and pain free by her fifth post-operative day. She also resumed treatment for her colon cancer much more rapidly than a traditional open procedure would have allowed.

Freedom of Movement

In robotic procedures, surgeons have freedom of movement that is limited in laparoscopic treatments. Robotic arms are controlled by the surgeon through a console, which also delivers a magnified 3-dimensional view of the patient’s anatomy. Because the instruments and arms are small, the incisions required with robotic approaches are a fraction of the size of those in traditional open procedures.

SURGICAL VIDEO: See this robotic hepatectomy procedure performed by Dr. Thomas Clancy, Associate Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. ***Video contains graphic content.

“I have found the robot to be beneficial in a variety of gastrointestinal procedures, including pancreatic surgery, gastric surgery, biliary procedures, and now liver surgery,” said Dr. Clancy. “We will likely continue to discover new ways to use robotic surgery as the technology continues to evolve.”

Robotic surgeons in the BWH Center for Robotic Surgery have performed thousands of robotic procedures for the surgical treatment of a wide range of conditions, including prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, uterine fibroids, pancreatic cysts and tumors, tumors in the throat, and cervical and other gynecologic cancers – as well as reversal of tubal sterilization.