New robotic surgery at AGH used to treat early-stage lung cancer

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PITTSBURGH - Just five days after surgery for lung cancer, Rodger Post was out of the hospital and healing at home thanks to a new procedure now performed at Allegheny General Hospital.

“I feel good,” Post told Channel 11’s Peggy Finnegan.

Post met with Finnegan just two weeks after his surgery.

“He’s not taking any pain medication and the recovery is very easy,” said Dr. Lana Schumacher.

She and her colleagues are now using sophisticated robotic surgery to treat early-stage lung cancer.

The procedure, known as robotic-assisted lobectomy, is much less invasive than traditional lung surgery, which required incisions close to a foot long and the breaking of ribs to open the chest.

“It was a very painful operation, one of the most painful incisions you could get,” said Schumacher. “After the surgery, it was very difficult. It was tedious in caring for them because of the pain.  It put them at high risk of pneumonia.”

According to AGH, most patients diagnosed with Stage I lung cancer are considered candidates for robotic-assisted lobectomy, but the procedure has particular promise for patients who are compromised by other medical problems and who may not be able to undergo a more invasive operation.

Post met that criteria since he had a heart transplant seven years ago.

With the da Vinci robot, the incisions are very small, the chest remains closed and the robot's wristed arms allow better dexterity for surgeons.

“The other advantage is it allows us much better visualization. Everything is seen in 3-D and magnified,” said Schumacher.

Schumacher said that also means less pain, shorter recovery times and better outcomes.

Post was able to go home just five days after surgery.

“I feel good. Everything's turned out fantastic. I couldn't ask for better results,” Post said.

AGH first performed a robotic lung cancer surgery in September.

The hospital also performs robotic surgery in gynecologic, urologic, cardiovascular, thoracic and transplantation surgery.