Ground-breaking surgery targets​ oesophageal cancer at St George Private

Ground-breaking: Associate Professor Michael Talbot with the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. Picture: Supplied

Ground-breaking: Associate Professor Michael Talbot with the da Vinci Xi Surgical System. Picture: Supplied

St George Private Hospital is confident its robotic technology will help patients suffering from oesophageal cancer – after the hospital completed what it believes to be a ground-breaking operation in Australia. 

Oesophageal cancer, which is cancer effecting the esophagus, is a relatively uncommon form of cancer when compared to the likes of breast and prostate cancer.

However, according to Cancer Council Australia, 1400 Australians suffer from this disease every year. The rate of survival of people suffering from the cancer is very low.

The operation performed to treat this form of cancer is known as an oesophagectomy and involves the removal of the diseased part of the esophagus and the upper part of the stomach.

Associate Professor Michael Talbot performed a robotic-assisted oesophagectomy on January 15 using the hospital’s da Vinci Xi Surgical System (purchased in 2016). The hospital in Kogarah claims it is the first time in Australia the robotic equipment had been used for this procedure.

Associate Professor Talbot said the surgery went well, and one of the benefits for patients was the recovery time after surgery.

“Most patients having open surgery get a long incision in their abdomen and a 30cm-plus incision in their chest.

“They all require at least two weeks in hospital. With robotic or laparoscopic surgery it’s possible to get some people home at a week.”

He said with help from the robotic system he was able to perform minimal invasive surgery.

“The smaller incisions lead to a faster recovery, earlier commencement of diet and ultimately an earlier discharge from hospital.”

He said survival of people suffering from oesophageal cancer was not good, but he hoped with robotic assistance that might be improved.

“The prognosis for oesophageal cancer has traditionally been poor with less than one person in five surviving beyond five years.

“Improvements in diagnosis, chemotherapy and increasing safety of surgery now means we can treat more people than we could in the past so survival rates are increasing.

“In oesophageal cancer recent trials have shown that minimally invasive surgery leads to reduced complications and improved long term prognosis.”


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