Spanish hospital performs first successful robotic lung transplant
A hospital in Spain completed the first robotic lung transplant through a 'small incision.' Albert Jauregui, the head of the Lung Transplant Service of Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, conveyed the details about the pioneering procedure in a press briefing on Monday, April 17, 2023. Reuters reported that the technique includes a robot and a new access route that no longer needs to cut through the bone.
The surgeons used a robot named 'Da Vinci' with four arms to cut a small section of the patient's skin, fat and muscle to remove the damaged lung. Then, the machine inserts a new one through an eight-centimetre incision below the sternum, above the diaphragm.
The surgeons deflate the new lung in the operating theatre, making it small enough to enter the tight incision. However, they made slim cuts to the side of the rib cage to adjust the robot arms and 3D cameras. "It's a part of the body that has the advantage of having a very elastic skin, which gives room to widen the opening without having to touch a single rib," Jauregui said.
Generally, lung transplants are 'aggressive' surgeries as they require a 30-centimetre incision in the chest, breaking the ribs to reach the organs. However, according to Jauregui, they replaced the organ "with a small incision below the sternum without breaking the ribs" using the new technique. Even though several hospitals routinely use smaller incisions for lung transplants, this was the first time doctors limited the incision to soft tissues.
Albert Jauregui also added the new technique for lung transplants is less painful for the patient, and the wound heals relatively faster. "We believe it is a technique that will improve patients' life quality, the post-surgery period and reduce pain. We hope this technique will eventually spread to more centres," he told Reuters.
Surgeons at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital performed the new lung transplant technique on Xavier, a 65-year-old man suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. Xavier stated he benefited from the new procedure. "From the moment I regained consciousness and woke up from general anaesthesia, I had zero pain," he said.