Fox Chase performs the world's first successful ViKY robot-assisted surgery for pancreatic tumors

March 24, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (March 24, 2009)--This month Fox Chase Cancer Center performed the world's first successful minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy using the ViKY® system's revolutionary robotic, compact laparoscope holder. The technology, developed in France and tested on thousands of patients in Europe, made its debut in a cancer setting in the United States this week at Fox Chase.

"Fox Chase is among only a handful of institutions worldwide using robotics or laparoscopy to treat patients with nearly all types of cancer," says Robert G. Uzzo, M.D., F.A.C.S., chairman of the department of surgery at Fox Chase. "The use of technology, like the ViKY system, reinforces our Center's commitment to excellence in minimally invasive surgical techniques for the care of patients with both benign and cancerous conditions."

Fox Chase surgeon Andrew A. Gumbs, M.D., who specializes in minimally invasive hepato-pancreatic and biliary (HPB) surgery, explains, "This system is so versatile that surgeons like me are able to use it for many different laparoscopic procedures, including those in the gastrointestinal, urologic, thoracic and gynecologic regions."

Typically with minimally invasive procedures, like a laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy, surgeons use both hands to manipulate the surgical tools and need an assistant to manipulate the endoscope--a thin, lighted tube equipped with a camera that allows the surgeon to view the surgical field.

Gumbs performed this first ever ViKY assisted minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy on a 65-year-old man who was diagnosed with two pancreatic cysts, one of which is potentially cancerous. Pathologists are currently evaluating the cyst.

"The new ViKY robotic laparoscope holder acts as an extra hand during surgery, giving me stability and steadiness," adds Gumbs. "The view of the surgical field is critical, so ViKY's pinpoint accuracy helps me perform more complex procedures laparoscopically." Unlike typical laparoscope holders, the ViKY system's holder is lightweight, easy to set up and use, and takes no floor space.

Standard treatment for pancreatic cancer is surgery to remove the head or tail of the pancreas. When patients present with pancreatic cancer localized to the tail of the pancreas (instead of the head), they undergo a distal pancreatectomy, in which the surgeon removes the tail of the pancreas and leaves the head attached. The remaining portion can function normally by producing and releasing digestive enzymes and hormones. Patients with pancreatic cancer are typically treated with surgery followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.

The ViKY system gave Gumbs precise control of the laparoscope while he performed the distal pancreatectomy. The endoscope moves according to the surgeon's orders, either through voice recognition or footswitch control.

Before the ViKY technology was available patients might have undergone open surgery. Depending on the complexity of the case, the surgeon may have considered open abdominal surgery, requiring a large incision and a lengthy recovery. Minimally invasive surgical techniques, like the surgery Dr. Gumbs performed, benefit patients in many ways, including a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, quicker return to daily activity, less risk of infection and less scarring and bleeding.

Gumbs was the first American surgeon to complete a minimally invasive HPB fellowship at the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris, France. This is the hospital where the first published case of a single incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the world was done using the ViKY system. Gumbs is responsible for bringing the ViKY system to Fox Chase and will be training fellow surgeons on this technology.

The ViKY system is manufactured by Endocontrol Medical in La Tronche, France. Endocontrol is an innovative company offering robotic solutions for endoscopic surgeries. Endocontrol was created by Clement Vidal and Patrick Henri of Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France, a worldwide leader in computer assisted and robotic surgery.
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Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of the leading cancer research and treatments centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation's first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. For more information, visit Fox Chase's web site at www.fccc.edu or call 1-888-FOX-CHASE or 1-888-369-2427.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Approximately seven minutes of high definition video of Dr. Gumbs performing this procedure is available. Please contact Lisa Bailey at 215-872-5846 or lisa.bailey@fccc.edu to obtain the footage.

Fox Chase Cancer Center

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