The primary objective of this study was to evaluate our experience using a completely portal (no access incision) robotic pulmonary lobectomy or segmentectomy.Methods
This was a retrospective review of a consecutive series of patients.Results
From February 2010 until October 2013, 862 robotic operations were performed by 1 surgeon. Of these, 394 were for a planned anatomic pulmonary resection, comprising robotic lobectomy in 282, robotic segmentectomy in 71, and conversions to open in 41 (10 for bleeding, 1 patient required transfusion; and no conversions for bleeding in the last 100 patients). Indications were malignancy in 88%. A median of 17 lymph nodes were removed. Median hospital stay was 2 days. Approximate financial data yielded: median hospital charges, $32,000 per patient (total, $12.6 million); collections, 23.7%; direct costs, $13,800 per patient; and $4,750 profit per patient (total, $1.6 million). Major morbidity occurred in 9.6%. The 30-day operative mortality was 0.25%, and 90-day mortality was 0.5%. Patients reported a median pain score of 2/10 at their 3-week postoperative clinic visit.Conclusions
Robotic lobectomy for cancer offers outstanding results, with excellent lymph node removal and minimal morbidity, mortality, and pain. Despite its costs, it is profitable for the hospital system. Disadvantages include capital costs, the learning curve for the team, and the lack of lung palpation. Robotic surgery is an important tool in the armamentarium for the thoracic surgeon, but its precise role is still evolving.