USC physicians perform 1st ever robotic surgery removing kidney cancer tumor that reaches heart

Surgeons from Keck Medicine of University of Southern California in Los Angeles removed a stage IV tumor thrombus by using a minimally invasive, robotic procedure — a world first. Stage IV tumor thrombus is when a kidney cancer tumor extends into the heart.

Typically, surgical removal of stage IV tumor thrombus is risky as it requires opening the patient's chest and abdomen to remove the tumor and blood clot without allowing it to break off.

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A multidisciplinary surgical team, led by Inderbir Gill, MD, founding executive director of the USC Institute of Urology and associate dean of clinical innovation at the Keck School of Medicine, performed the procedure. The surgeons prepared for the surgery by using 3-D maps of the patient's anatomy to plan the procedure. They used the latest-generation Xi da Vinci surgical robot.

The surgical team employed minimally invasive, robotic surgery techniques during the 10-hour long procedure. These techniques involved smaller incisions and minimized blood loss by more than five-fold. Additionally, the patient's hospital stay was only six days, as compared to the two to three weeks it takes to recover following open surgery.

"This exciting feat promises to redefine the boundaries of what is surgically possible through skill, collaboration and technology," said Dr. Gill. "Our hope is that we can now propel the field at large to turn such futuristic robotic surgery into our present standard-of-care."

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