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Robotic-Assisted Surgery Appears Safe for Complicated Pancreatic Procedures, UPMC Research Finds

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 19, 2010 – Robotic-assisted surgery for complex pancreatic procedures can be performed safely in a high-volume facility, according to a study published online this week in Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Complex pancreatic surgery remains the final frontier for use of minimally invasive procedures, according to James Moser, M.D., and Herb Zeh, M.D., co-directors of the UPMC Pancreatic Cancer Center and the study’s corresponding authors, There are two challenges when attempting minimally invasive procedures for complex pancreatic surgeries,” said Dr. Moser. “The first challenge is controlling bleeding from major blood vessels. The second is the reconstruction of the ducts in the liver and pancreas. While recent data has suggested that complex pancreatic operations can be performed laparoscopically, this approach requires that critical technical principles of open pancreatic surgery be modified to overcome the limitations of the technology, such as limited range of instrument motion, poor surgeon ergonomics and reduced dexterity.”

For this study, the researchers report their experiences with 30 patients who underwent robotic-assisted pancreatic resection between October 2008 and February 2010. According to the researchers, the length of surgery time, duration of hospital stay and follow-up complications were all consistent with those observed in large groups of patients undergoing open procedures.

“As robotic-assisted pancreatic surgery continues to evolve, we may be able to reduce operative times,” said Dr. Zeh. “Ideally, we believe robotic-assisted pancreatic surgeries could lead to shorter hospital stays, fewer wound and lung-related complications and decreased recovery time for patients.”

About UPMC Cancer Centers

UPMC Cancer Centers offers cancer patients exceptional care and innovative treatments close to home. Working in tandem with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, UPMC Cancer Centers provides the latest advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment at more than 40 community-based locations throughout the region.

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