Robotic Lung Surgery Arrives at Franciscan Health Crown Point

Thoracic surgery specialist Jason Fitzgerald, MD, shows the robotic arms of the da Vinci Xi system, which translate the surgeon’s hand movements. (Photo provided)

In Lake County, hospital officials say robotic lung surgery is now benefiting patients at Franciscan Health Crown Point. Thoracic surgery specialist Jason Fitzgerald, MD, began performing lung procedures in June 2021 using the da Vinci Xi surgical system from Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Many of the surgeries he’s done have been on cancer patients. “You can do more complex procedures with smaller incisions, so they recover faster and have less pain,” said Dr. Fitzgerald.


Thoracic surgery specialist Jason Fitzgerald, MD, demonstrates the high-definition 3D camera viewer and controls used for surgery with the da Vinci Xi system. (Photo provided)

Traditional open surgery requires the surgeon to make a large incision in the chest and then spread the ribs to see the lung directly. “It’s pretty painful and there’s more blood loss,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is less invasive, using smaller incisions to insert a camera and surgical instruments. However, Dr. Fitzgerald said the instruments in VATS are limited in their mobility and the visualization is two-dimensional.

A closer view of the robotic arms of the da Vinci Xi surgical system from Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (Photo provided)

The da Vinci technology has multiple arms and a high-definition 3D camera that are inserted through small incisions. The operator sits at a control console next to the bed in the operating room and controls the movement of the robot.

“Basically, you’re looking through a camera inside the patient. It’s 3D and has a huge amount of detail, much more than you can get on a flat screen,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “The robot translates your hand movements, and it’s just like having miniature versions of your hand inside the patient.”

Dr. Fitzgerald said the robotic surgery system has been useful for lung cancer procedures and infections in the pleural space around the lungs. He’s done biopsies and removed cysts from lungs. “Basically, anything in the chest outside the heart we can use it for,” he added.

Here is a link for more information online from Franciscan Health Crown Point.