Candidate for Robotic Surgery: March 31, 2011

It’s new technology that has certainly piqued the interest of patients across Southwest Florida. “Because of the popularity of the robot, and how much press it’s gotten just because it’s a robot, many patients are actually self-referred,” says Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, a cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

He’s discussed the da Vinci Robotic System on several occasions with curious heart patients. “In a way that’s been a good thing. Some refers don’t know about it or don’t know it’s offered. Education from the referred and the patient standpoint has been very important.”

The robotic surgery involves tiny incisions which means less scarring. Patient recovery times are also faster which is why many patients are eager to see if they are a candidate. But sometimes they are not. “There are several patients that I see that I would love to do robotic surgery on but they are not good candidates. Just because you do robotic surgery doesn’t mean everyone who comes through the door is going to be a robotic candidate.”

There are many factors that go into determining who’s right for the procedure and who isn’t. Certain diseases, the patient’s physical health, and past treatments are just a few of the sticking points. “Really, the only person who can tell you if you are a candidate for the robot is the surgeon who does the robotic surgery,” says Dr. DiGiorgi.

While visiting with the surgeon about this possibility, be sure to discuss the pros and cons that come with this procedure and don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how elementary they may seem.