With the combination of highly skilled surgeons and advanced robotic technology, Keck Medicine of USC is a global center of excellence for robotic surgery.

With the combination of highly skilled surgeons and advanced robotic technology, Keck Medicine of USC is a global center of excellence for robotic surgery.

Surgeons at Keck Medicine of USC perform more robotic surgeries than at any other hospital in the metro Los Angeles area. What make these procedures extraordinary are not only the state-of-the-art robotic technology, but also the exceptional skill and experience of the surgeons, who are faculty members at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“For patients, the fact that we have the most technologically advanced equipment is compelling, but it is really about the surgeons that bring comfort and confidence to those who need expert treatments for the most complex diseases,” says Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO, Keck Medicine of USC.

Robotic surgery provides patients a minimally invasive treatment option (incisions are typically less than one inch), less pain, minimal scarring, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times.

In January, surgeons from the USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute were the first on the West Coast to perform robotic endovascular surgery for treatment of peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Fred Weaver, MD, MMM, chief of the division of vascular surgery and endovascular therapy, and Sung Wan Ham, MD, director of Endovascular Robotic Program, utilized the Magellan robotic system, which is used to treat PVD and other complex vascular diseases more effectively with shorter procedure times and less radiation exposure to the patient and surgery staff.

Weaver, who is a professor of surgery at Keck School of Medicine of USC, says the technology is a boon for patients at Keck Medicine of USC.

“We are on the cutting-edge of the endo applications with this,” says Weaver.

Jeffrey Hagen, MD, chief of the division of thoracic surgery, is also making great strides in the utilization of robotic technology for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the lung, pleura, esophagus, mediastinum and chest wall. Working together with Daniel Oh, MD, the surgeons of the USC Thoracic Robotic Program have performed more robotic lobectomies than any other center in Southern California, with more than 200 procedures performed since 2011.

Last summer, Hagen and his team were the first in Southern California to perform a robotic-assisted procedure for a lung cancer patient using the new da Vinci Xi robotic system. This robot has smaller arms for greater dexterity and precision to remove cancerous tissue in all quadrants of the abdomen and chest.

“Having an advanced robotic surgical system at USC gives us the opportunity to create a public education message to encourage patients to seek specialized surgical options,” says Hagen, “Our goal is to get the patients’ cancer taken care of in a minimally invasive fashion so that they can get back to a good quality of life. The robotic procedure allows us to do that.”

Another leader in the field is Inderbir Gill, MD, MCh, chairman and professor of the Catherine and Joseph Aresty Department of Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the founding executive director of the USC Institute of Urology. Gill pioneered a procedure using robotic technology to remove tumors on a kidney in an outpatient procedure. During the procedure, he maintains uninterrupted blood flow to the kidney, making the kidney more viable after the tumors are removed. Gill uses a laparoscopic device — a high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) surgical ablation system — to ablate the tumors while keeping the kidney intact. The HIFU system is also an option for cancer of other organs, such as the prostate, liver and pancreas.

These three programs — USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute, USC Division of Thoracic Surgery and the USC Institute of Urology — are now serving as training centers for surgeons and physicians worldwide to learn how to use the Magellan and da Vinci robotic systems effectively.

“We are at the forefront of training other physicians from around the globe on these machines and in the latest robotic surgery techniques because we are committed to pushing the envelope of what is best for patients everywhere,” says Gill, who has overseen the training of more than 100 urological surgeons in advanced robotic procedures.

by Sharon Brock