Rare surgery done by robot helps pluck out 450gm tumour

Conventional surgery would have required cutting open the chest to remove the tumour, doctors said

In a rare surgery, doctors at Apollo Hospital recently removed a large tumour, weighing 450gm, from the chest cavity of a 57-year-old woman. They used three small keyholes and robotic arms to pull out the abnormal growth that was surrounded by the heart and blood vessels. Conventional surgery would have required cutting open the chest to remove the tumour, doctors said.

“It wasn’t easy at all. We were, in fact, prepared to postpone the robotic surgery if anything went wrong and go for an open surgery,” said Dr Arun Prasad, senior consultant surgeon (minimal access surgery) at Apollo Hospital. He added that the patient, Chuithing Golmei from Manipur, has recovered well post-surgery. Golmei had a large thymus gland tumour. Simply put, it is a tumour that originates from the thymus gland in the chest cavity.

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The robotic surgery involved making three small keyholes in the chest region; one of them 12mm (to insert the robot’s arm carrying a camera and light for better vision) and the other two sized 8mm for carrying instruments. Through a console, the surgeon guided the arms to detach the tumour from the surrounding blood vessels and tissues and slowly remove it through the 12mm-sized hole, which had to be stretched further since the tumour was too big.

Dr Prasad added that small thymus gland tumours in the chest cavity have been removed successfully in the past but there are few reports of a tumour as big as the one Golmei had.

The surgery, which lasted for about an hour and a half, was conducted on Friday and the patient was discharged from the hospital two days later. Her nephew, Mayoyang Lunghar, said she is recovering well and would be travelling back to her home town later this week to celebrate Christmas with her family.

In the past few years, robotic surgery has emerged as a popular technique. More hospitals are acquiring machines to perform the minimally-invasive technique due to increasing demand. Experts said robotic surgery minimises the risk of error and helps patients recover fast. It costs around Rs 50,000-Rs 75,000 more than conventional surgery and is available only in big corporate hospitals.

Source: The Times of India