Thoracic Robotic Surgery

Thoracic surgery robot with a surgery table

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If you have any questions before or after your procedure, please contact the Cottage Surgical Clinics at: (805) 324-9144.

Thoracic conditions are illnesses that affect the organs inside your chest, such as your lungs, heart or esophagus.

When medicine, lifestyle changes or other options do not ease your symptoms or condition, your doctor may suggest surgery.

Once you have had your initial consultation with the thoracic surgeon, a determination will be made if robotic surgery is the best approach for your condition. The surgeon will evaluate the risks and benefits, tests, pathology and prognosis when determining when and how the robot might be used for your individual case.

Surgery can include: open surgery through one large incision (cut) or minimally invasive surgery through a few small incisions.

What is Robotic Thoracic Surgery?

  • User interface on the back of the patient side cart
  • Nurse assisting the da Vinci Xi patient cart
  • Surgeon sitting at the da Vinci Xi surgeon console

Traditional chest surgery has historically been more invasive, using a technique requiring a large six to twelve inch incision called a thoracotomy. However, as technology and training have evolved much of these surgeries are now performed as minimally invasive using several one-centimeter incisions.

Surgeries performed using the da Vinci robot are actually performed by a skilled surgeon and not a “robot” as one would assume. The surgeon operates by controlling the robotic arms and surgical instruments of the device from a computer console. Using this method, the surgeon is able to operate with 3D high resolution views with the greatest of precision.

Studies have shown that patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery versus open surgery have decreased perioperative complications, length of stay, pain, and recovery time. Follow this to find out what to expect before and after surgery.

During surgery the da Vinci robot is controlled by the surgeon throughout the entire case. The use of the robot gives the surgeon more control over the instruments as well as improved visualization during the surgery using a 3D high-definition camera. The surgeon will operate through the gaps in your ribs, without having to spread your ribs apart, and will be in full control of all instruments at all times.

The Cottage Health Thoracic Surgical Team leads the region by experience and numbers, having performed well over 100 robotic surgeries for thoracic conditions.

What Surgeries Can be Done Using the Robotic Device?

Lung Surgery

You have two lungs in your body. Your right lung has three parts (lobes) and your left lung has two parts. The lung surgeries we do with the robot are lobectomy, segmentectomy, and wedge resection. These surgeries are all differentiated by how much lung tissue is removed.


Usually done for confirmed lung cancer within a lobe of a lung. The entire lobe is removed as well as the supplying blood vessels and lymph nodes.

Wedge Resection

Usually done in order to get tissue to determine a diagnosis or prognosis, this includes the removal of a small, wedge-shaped part of lung tissue from a lobe of the lung.


Similar to a wedge resection in that a part of your lobe is removed. It is larger than a wedge resection but doesn’t involve removing the entire lobe as in a lobectomy.

Mediastinal Mass Resection

The mediastinum is the space between your lungs in your chest. There are a variety of different causes for a mass to be located here. They can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Sometimes the entire mass cannot be removed so a piece will be removed in order to biopsy the tissue to determine a diagnosis or prognosis.


This surgery involves the removal of a portion, or the entire, thymus gland. This surgery is done for a variety of conditions including various tumors as well as for myasthenia gravis.


This procedure involves removing part of the esophagus and stomach. It is most often done for esophageal cancer. This surgery involves a general surgeon and a thoracic surgeon as surgery requires access through the abdomen and the chest. The chest portion is done with a robot to allow for better visualization, less pain and faster recovery.

Cottage Locations

Cottage Robotic Surgery Center Offers Robotic Lobectomy Procedure

Barbara Ross

After an ultrasound revealed tumors growing on her lung, Barbara Ross was referred to the Cottage Robotic Surgery Center. Soon after, she was the first patient to have a robotic lobectomy in our area.

Successful Recovery