Dr. Shawn Groth, associate professor in the David J. Sugarbaker Division of Thoracic Surgery, performed his 100th robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy in July. This extraordinary accomplishment is not just a personal triumph for Groth, but it also signifies an evolution in the field of esophageal surgery and underscores the experience and expertise of Baylor surgeons.
“This milestone highlights the strength of the robotic cardiothoracic surgery team at Baylor, allowing us to perform a high volume of complex cardiac and thoracic operations through less invasive techniques,” says Groth.
The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach. An esophagectomy is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the esophagus is removed and (typically) reconstructed with the stomach. It is performed for cancer and some benign disorders, such as severe scarring of the esophagus or achalasia. Traditionally, esophageal surgery was performed through large “open” incisions in the chest, abdomen and/or neck. Though effective, these surgeries often require a prolonged recovery period and are associated with significant discomfort and complications.
Recognizing the need for a more patient-centric approach that offers operations that are safer and more easily tolerated, visionary surgeons at Baylor like Groth have dedicated themselves to perfecting less invasive surgical techniques. The advanced robotic technology provides surgeons like Groth with a magnified, 3D high-definition visual field and miniature wristed instruments that mirror the dexterity of the human hand. This exceptional precision and control, combined with enhanced vision, places robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomies in a class of their own compared to standard laparoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques.
“There’s an abundance of data in the literature supporting the benefits of minimally invasive esophagectomy over traditional ‘open’ esophagectomies, including less pain, lower complication rates, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery and a better quality-of-life,” says Groth. “A robotic approach allows us to perform complex operations, such as esophagectomy, with a great deal of precision and ensures patients receive the highest standards of oncology care, including a thorough lymph node evaluation, resecting the tumor with negative margins and optimizing long-term survival.”
By Tiffany Harston, communications associate with the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery