Robotic pancreatic surgery performed at Mayo Clinic Arizona for first time

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The Mayo Clinic in Arizona performed a Whipple surgery using only robotics for the first time.

A Whipple procedure is a common surgery for pancreatic cancer and is performed to treat tumors and other kinds of conditions that affect the pancreas, small intestine, and bile ducts.

Due to the pancreas being located right in the middle of the abdomen, surgeons have to move and rearrange other organs around the pancreas. The procedure is extremely invasive, typically has a long recovery time, and often has complications that arise afterward.

But all this could be changing with the robotics program at Mayo.

This new Whipple technic surgery looks almost like a video game: the surgeon has a console and uses a joystick to control a robot for the procedure.

Robotics leaves smaller incision cuts, is much less invasive than traditional surgery, and has a shorter recovery time. This new procedure lessens the chance of patients developing hernias after the surgery and results in shorter hospital stays.

Surgical Oncologist Dr. Zhi Fong, who started the robotics program at Mayo Clinic Arizona, joined us to discuss what this could mean for future surgeries at the clinic.

“I think part of being in the next generation of surgeons is that we are all trained in robotic approaches, and I think the uptake of robotic Whipple operations throughout the country has been increasing,” said Dr. Fong.

Dr. Zhi Fong, Surgical Oncologist, Mayo Clinic Arizona

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