Daily Herald American Cancer Society
Robotic technology on front lines in surgery suites

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ed Bosowski, a 54-year-old USG executive, never knew he was destined to become a pioneer. Neither did Star Downs, a 41-year-old Naperville nurse anesthetist.

Bosowski, a Lake Barrington resident and father of two, made history earlier this spring as surgeons employed the latest tool in space age robotic technology to remove a tumor in his kidney. Downs, a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, had a portion of her liver removed robotically in January when doctors discovered her cancer had spread.

Bosowski, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in early January, was among the area’s first to have a partial nephrectomy procedure using the da Vinci system — literally a robot controlled by a surgeon. The robot, which is able to perform complex surgery movements using a minimally invasive approach, is making waves and offering surgeons yet another tool in their arsenal of options for cancer surgery.

“The technology is amazing,” says Dr. Gordon Gluckman, a board-certified urologist using the new robotic system at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge. “Results to date are dramatic, with patients experiencing less

Dr. Gordon Gluckman
post op pain, quicker recovery and healing. The robotic system offers better 3-D visualization, higher power and better control of blood vessels to control bleeding.”

Dr. Gluckman says the robot, which was initially used for the minimally invasive radical prostatectomy — the removal of the prostate for treatment of prostate cancer — is once again making news as variations on the same technique make it possible to expand usage.

Robotic arms are controlled by a surgeon as the robot mimics the surgeon’s movements in real time. Hand, wrist and finger movements are seamlessly translated into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient. Telescopic magnification increases the surgeon’s field of vision up to 10 times, enhancing accuracy and precision.

Because surgeons can more accurately perform complex surgical maneuvers through small “ports,” patients have less need for large, traumatic incisions and experience less post-operation pain and discomfort.

Making the kidney cancer diagnosis

“I’d had hip pain and been limping for almost three months when my sports medicine doctor ordered an X-ray,” Bosowski recalls. “The internist later suspected arthritis, but a suspicious spot on my CT scan required further investigation. An MRI showed a spot on my kidney.”

After hearing the fateful news and learning of his cancer diagnosis, Bosowski was slated for surgery to remove the pea-sized tumor located in the back, lower lobe of his kidney. The March 7 minimally invasive robotic procedure required just a two-night hospital stay and Bosowski was able to return to work the following week.

He and his wife, Debbie, who has carcinoid cancer, were able to enjoy a traditional spring break getaway to the Bahamas and say the entire cancer experience keeps them focused on what’s really important.

Star Downs

Star Downs, the mother of two and a nurse anesthetist at Provena Mercy Medical Center, Aurora, says she is typically on the other side of the operating table. Currently on leave from her nursing position, Downs’ colon cancer diagnosis, subsequent September colon resection surgery done at the University of Illinois Hospital and the need for chemotherapy meant a shift in roles.

When Downs’ cancer metastasized to her liver, doctors opted to remove the right lobe on Jan. 11 at Advocate Lutheran General. Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti performed both the colon and liver surgeries robotically.

“Traditional liver surgery usually means lots of bleeding and a lengthy recovery,” reports Downs, who plans to complete chemotherapy this month. “Because the robotic surgery is laparoscopic, the hospital stay was shorter, scarring minimized and recovery quicker. I was simply amazed at my ability to get up and move around so quickly.”


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