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A 39-YEAR-OLD woman underwent robotic surgery to remove a cancerous segment of her lung at Shanghai Chest Hospital yesterday, China’s first robot-assisted lung cancer surgery.

With the da Vinci Surgical System, the world's most advanced robotic surgical system, doctors were able to perform the operation, without resorting to the traditional open-chest method.

Two hospitals in Beijing used the da Vinci system last year and early this year for heart and liver surgery.

"Compared with heart and liver surgery, operating on the lung is more difficult due to its complex network of blood vessels and tracheas," said Dr Luo Qingquan, one of the two chief surgeons at yesterday's surgery.

Compared with the traditional method of opening a patient's chest to remove cancerous lung tissue, the robotic system imposes less trauma, smaller penetration and ensures better surgical results as the instruments can turn at any angle and reach areas where a surgeon's hands cannot.

During the surgery, doctors cut four 1-centimeter holes in the chest of the patient. The procedure was complete in two hours.

Developed by NASA, the Pentagon and universities in the United States, the Da Vinci Surgical System has been used in many developed countries such as the US and Japan for complex surgery.

The Da Vinci Surgical System was purchased for US$2.67 million.

The Da Vinci system is controlled by a surgeon from a console in the same operating room as the patient. Four robotic arms perform the operation on the patient.


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