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USC surgeons first to perform new robotic operation for Southland cancer patients

Hagen and Oh to head the only worldwide training center for da Vinci system at Keck Medical Center of USC

by Sherri Snelling
surgeons Jeff Hagen and Daniel Oh
Jeff Hagen, chief of thoracic surgery at Keck Medical Center of USC and Daniel Oh, USC thoracic surgeon in front of the Xi robot (Photo/Van Urfalian)

Keck Medical Center of USC surgeons this summer became the first in Southern California to perform the Food and Drug Administration-approved, robotic-assisted procedure for a lung cancer patient using the da Vinci Xi robot, a minimally invasive surgical system.

USC chief of thoracic surgery Jeffrey Hagen and Keck Medicine of USC thoracic surgeon Daniel Oh will head the only worldwide training center located at Keck Medical Center for other surgeons to learn how to use the system for thoracic procedures.

The more doctors we can teach how to use this new technology, the more opportunities we give patients for cure and recovery.

Daniel Oh

The new Xi robot, created by Intuitive Surgical and approved by the FDA on April 1, is optimized for thoracic procedures. The system gives surgeons greater dexterity, precision and ability to remove cancerous tissue in all quadrants of the abdomen and chest because of its smaller arms. In addition, surgeons have a larger operating field in which to work, leading to better maneuverability without having to reposition the robot as frequently throughout the procedure.

A less invasive treatment

For patients, robotic surgery, when appropriate, provides a minimally invasive treatment choice that often leads to smaller incisions (less than one inch), less pain and less need for medication, minimal scarring and reduced bleeding. However, the biggest advantages for robotic surgery are the shorter hospital stay and faster recovery time for patients to return to normal daily routines, often cutting these times in half.

“Having our surgeons become the only training team worldwide for thoracic robotic surgeries using the Xi is another example of how Keck Medicine of USC is continuing our dominance in robotic surgeries in Southern California,” said Thomas Jackiewicz, CEO of USC Health, which oversees Keck Medicine of USC. “Because we perform more robotic surgeries than any other hospital in the metro Los Angeles area, patients have more confidence in our expert surgeons and overall this leads to better patient safety and outcomes.”

The da Vinci robot (Photo/​)

The da Vinci robot (Photo/​)

The Keck Medical Center of USC, which consists of Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, has been pioneering robotic surgery for years and is the fastest-growing robotic surgery center in the country.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

Calling all patients

“Having the most advanced robotic surgical system at USC gives us the opportunity to create a public education message to encourage patients to seek treatment from experts who understand specialized surgical options,” said Hagen, who is also an associate professor of clinical surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “We know there has been a stigma associated with lung cancer because of its connection to smoking. However, over the last 10 years, the incidence for this type of cancer has been rising among non-smokers, especially women, and our goal is to have patients seek out experts for treatment options that increase your chances for survival.”

As a university-based medical center, Keck Medicine of USC’s reputation as a center of excellence for robotic surgery has led other surgeons and physicians worldwide to its doorstep to be trained on the latest advances in robotic procedures.

“Only 3 percent of lung cancer surgeries are done by dedicated thoracic surgical oncologists such as Dr. Hagen and myself,” said Oh, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine. “Patients have better outcomes when they see a specialist in the area of medicine with which they need help. The more doctors we can teach how to use this new technology, the more opportunities we give patients for cure and recovery.”

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