Dana-Farber / Brigham and Women's Cancer Center

Robotic Technique Benefits Patients with Pancreatic Cysts and Tumors

Robotic Technique Benefits Patients

The Pancreatic Tumor Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center is one of few in the region to offer robotic distal pancreatectomy. In addition to less blood loss, reduced discomfort, and faster recovery than open pancreatectomy, robotic distal pancreatectomy provides three-dimensional visualization of the tumor and greater freedom of movement for precise dissection of tumors adjacent to major vascular structures, compared with a traditional laparoscopic approach.

Robotic distal pancreatectomy is performed by Thomas E. Clancy, MD, a highly experienced pancreatic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of pancreatic tumors and cysts. He is one of nearly a dozen DF/BWCC surgeons who together have performed more than 2,000 robotic procedures. All of these surgeons underwent a rigorous training process and credentialing prior to performing robotic techniques.

  intraoperative ultrasound is used to precisely
Following preliminary dissection, intraoperative ultrasound is used to precisely localize the tumor prior to dividing the pancreas.
  Multiple instruments
Multiple instruments, each with several degrees of movement, are controlled by the surgeon. In this image, the surgeon dissects underneath the pancreas to expose vascular structures.
  the pancreatic tail
After the pancreas and its vascular supply have been divided, the pancreatic tail
and tumor are dissected from the retroperitoneum.

“As with any new technique, we were very thoughtful in our approach to implementing robotic distal pancreatectomy, using our experience with open and laparoscopic pancreatic surgery to clearly outline the relative benefits and potential risks of the robotic approach,” said Dr. Clancy.

Indications for Referral

The Pancreatic Tumor Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center brings together gastroenterologists, pancreatic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gastrointestinal radiologists, and gastrointestinal pathologists to provide highly specialized evaluation and care for patients with pancreatic tumors, including cysts and suspected malignancies. Robotic distal pancreatectomy is available for select patients with:

  • Solid or cystic pancreatic tumors;
  • Suspected malignancy;
  • Pre-malignant lesions.

Evaluating and Characterizing Pancreatic Cysts

Expert assessment of pancreatic cysts is available through the Pancreas Cystic Neoplasm Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the only one of its kind in New England. In this biweekly multidisciplinary clinic, pancreatic surgeons, pancreatologists, and therapeutic endoscopists evaluate patients together to determine the best course of treatment for complex cystic tumors.

Specialists in the Pancreas Cystic Neoplasm Clinic use advanced techniques, including endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA), to help in the evaluation of pancreatic cysts and are investigating new ways to characterize pancreatic cysts and guide recommendations for management.

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Upcoming CME Program

Breast Cancer — New Horizons, Current Controversies
July 11 – 13, 2013
Boston Marriott Long Wharf
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Course Directors:
Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD;
Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH;
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