VATS, Robotics in Greater Demand 

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is the most common approach to thoracic surgery in specialized centers, but robotics is rapidly being adopted. 

STS/CATS/CSCS: Innovative Techniques in Thoracic Surgery

Sunday

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Room 31AB

“Robotic thoracic procedures are exploding in popularity, representing the largest growing category within robotic surgery in the United States,” said Bernard J. Park, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. 

Trends in the use of minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques such as VATS and robotics for thoracic surgery will be reviewed Sunday during a collaborative session organized by STS, the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Canadian Society of Cardiac Surgeons, with a focus on the benefits over open approaches and variation between robotic and non-robotic platforms. 

Bernard J. Park, MD

Bernard J. Park, MD

“There is a growing interest by both patients and practitioners to offer MIS approaches, when appropriate, for a wide range of general thoracic procedures, as these strategies can reduce surgical trauma and enhance recovery while maintaining quality outcomes,” said Dr. Park, who is co-moderating the session. “It is the duty of thoracic surgical leadership worldwide to develop the appropriate data-driven approaches.”

The session will review the use of MIS approaches for anatomic lung resection, including utilization across different types of practices and for different types of procedures (segmentectomy, lobectomy, and pneumonectomy).

The session also will explore the challenges that come with adopting this type of technology, including the additional cost for robotic surgery, said co-moderator Kazuhiro Yasufuku, MD, PhD, of the University of Toronto.

“There’s not only the cost of purchasing the robot, but also the instruments and the maintenance fee,” Dr. Yasufuku said. “The other issue may be hesitance for surgeons to adopt this new technology. The learning curve is steep compared to VATS.”

Dr. Park added that availability remains a challenge, with many practitioners either working in hospitals that lack a system or where there isn’t availability for thoracic surgery. He also pointed to credentialing, training, and oversight (proctoring) as other barriers to adopting robotics. 

But the benefits of robotics and VATS are worth the effort, according to Dr. Yasufuku, who said that both methods are less invasive for patients, resulting in less pain. Both offer shorter hospital stays, fewer complications, and less bleeding with the same oncological outcomes.

“Cardiothoracic surgeons need to be aware of what is coming and be ready for adopting these technologies into their practice,” Dr. Yasufuku said. 

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