Thoracic surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center are expanding the use of robotic surgery to the treatment of lung, esophageal, mediastinal, and thymic cancers and other disorders. They are able to perform some lobectomy, esophagectomy, and thymectomy procedures using this approach.
Advanced thoracic surgical options at Weill Cornell Medicine
During the robotic procedure, a Weill Cornell Medicine thoracic surgeon sits at a console, viewing the surgical field through the robot's "vision system." The surgeon uses controls to operate the various arms and cameras of the robot, which are placed into position in by surgical assistants.
Robotic thoracic surgery benefits patients by:
• Improving the surgeon’s vision of the area requiring operation
• Increasing precision
• Improving the overall success of minimally invasive surgical techniques, which decrease blood loss, minimize pain, and require a shorter recovery period
Expert surgical treatment for thymoma
The thymus gland produced white blood cells, which protect the body from infections. It is found in the upper chest, under the breastbone.
Thymomas are cancerous tumors that develop on the surface of the thymus gland. People living with an autoimmune disease (such as Myasthenia gravis) have a greater risk of developing thymoma. Symptoms include coughing, trouble breathing, and chest pain.
This condition is most frequently found during routine chest x-rays. The diagnosis is confirmed with additional imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan.
The most common treatment is surgery to remove the tumor. Additional treatments may include radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy.
Why choose Weill Cornell Medicine for robotic thoracic surgery?
The Department of Cardiothoracic surgery offers patients:
• The most advanced equipment and technology is used for all of our procedures
• An excellent network of medical professionals, including oncologists, gastroenterologists, and pathologists, working with our thoracic surgeons to ensure patients receive truly comprehensive care
• Treatments tailored specifically to each individual patient
• Our record of excellent outcomes — among the best in the nation — with a very low rate of complications
• Expertise in operating on patients with other health problems (such as diabetes, kidney problems, or others) and those who are elderly
Clinical Trials Open to Thoracic Surgery Patients
The purpose of this study is to find out the effectiveness of the drug, called durvalumab (MEDI4736), for treating Stage I, II, and IIIA non-small cell lung cancer, either prior to surgery and one year following surgery.
This is a phase III, global, multicenter, open-label, randomized study. The purpose of this trial is to compare the efficacy and safety of 16 cycles (one cycle duration = 21 days) of atezolizumab (MPDL3280A) treatment with best supportive care (BSC).
This study focuses on patients with Stage IB and IIIA non-small cell lung cancer following resection and adjuvant chemotherapy, as measured by disease-free survival (DFS) as assessed by the investigator and overall survival (OS). After completing up to four cycles of adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy, participants will be randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive atezolizumab for 16 cycles or BSC.
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I am interested in participating in a clinical trial for thoracic conditions. Where can I learn about the current trials at Weill Cornell Medicine?
I would like to learn more about my specific condition and treatment options. Which resources do you recommend?
We recommend visiting the Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiothoracic Department website, as well as the National Cancer Institute and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation.
What happens after I schedule my surgery?
Once you and your care team decide that surgery is the best treatment plan for your condition, you will schedule a pre-surgical appointment at M404.
What happens during the pre-surgical appointment?
During your pre-surgical appointment:
• Your nurse practitioner will explain what you can expect for your specific surgery and hospital stay
• Your nurse practitioner will review your current medications
• You will sign a consent form for the surgery and potential blood transfusion (Please note: Most patients do not receive blood transfusions during surgery, but we are required to have you sign this consent form, just in case you do need a transfusion and are not awake at the time to give your consent. ALL blood is stringently tested for HIV, hepatitis, and cytomegalovirus.)
• You have the opportunity to ask questions
• You will receive a small bottle of antibacterial soap
This process generally takes two to three hours.
What do I need to do to prepare for the surgery?
You will be given instructions as to which medications you should stop taking to prepare for surgery.
On the night before your surgery, shower using half of the bottle of antibacterial soap. On the morning of the surgery, before you come to the hospital, shower using the rest of the soap.
Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. You may take your medications that the nurse practitioner approved you to take the morning of surgery, with just a small sip of water.
Where should I park for my surgery?
Parking is available in front of the 68th Street circular entrance to the hospital. There are also several parking garages in the immediate area.
Parking is only validated on the day of your hospital discharge, not on the day of your pre-surgical appointment.
What should I bring for my surgery?
Please be sure to bring your:
• Insurance card(s)
• Pajamas, robe, and slippers
Generally try not to bring too much to the hospital, because you probably won't use a lot of these things and will just have to carry them home.
Please do not bring any jewelry or expensive electronics with you for the first hospital day. Your family and friends are welcome to bring those items once you are awake and in your room.
Where should I go to check in for the surgery?
Please check in at Greenberg 3-West (Same-Day Surgery Unit), which is on the third floor of the Greenberg Pavilion, using the "G" elevators.
If you are the first case, please check in at 6 a.m. If you are the second case, please check in at 10 a.m.
Where should my friends and family members wait during the surgery?
During your surgery, your family and friends should wait in the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium. Please tell them to check in at the front desk so that they can be contacted when your surgeon calls.
If the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute Atrium is closed at the time of your surgery, your family and friends may wait in the smaller waiting area right outside the Cardiothoracic ICU (4-West).
There is also a café on the first floor of the hospital, directly opposite the information desk and down the hall from the front door on the left, which is open at all times. This café sells coffee, tea, and a variety of food.
Where can I learn more information about thoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine?
What does the typical recovery look like? What should I expect?
Pain in and around the incision may last up to several weeks. It is also very common to experience numbness around the incisions as well.
You will be given specific instructions about how to best care for the incisions. It is important to keep the wounds clean; normal soap and water is best for this care.
You can resume driving six weeks after your operation. Your physician will evaluate if you are ready to fly at your follow up appointment.
How long will it take before I can resume my normal routine and activities?
You will likely feel tired for a few days after the operation. We recommend taking short naps and trying to stay awake during the day as long as possible so that you can rest fully at night.
Exercise: Continue to use the incentive spirometer (the blue "ball machine") for the first week or two after you get home, approximately four to five times each day. Two weeks after surgery, you should be doing enough physical activity to stop using the machine.
Try to walk for 20 minutes twice a day when you come home, and slowly increase the frequency and duration of your exercise. You will slowly increase your endurance and energy level.
Diet: For the first one to two months after surgery, eat as much as you can without regard to salt and fat intake. In general, anesthesia will decrease your appetite, so it is important to eat as much as you can during this time to help your body to heal.
If you were on a special diet (such as a low-carbohydrate, diabetic, or kidney diet), continue following this diet after you feel that your appetite has recovered. Your care team will work with you to help determine the best diet to optimize your health.
I have questions about my insurance coverage. Who should I contact?
Please see Insurance Questions or call (212) 746-5161.