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Spain sees world’s first lung transplant performed entirely by a robot

origin 1Medical staff at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital perform a robotic lung operation with the use of endoscopy only, in Barcelona, ​​Spain. ©Vall d’Hebron University Hospital/Handout via REUTERS

A team of surgeons in Spain has successfully performed the world’s first robotic lung transplant.

Lung transplants are known to be complex operations as the patient’s chest needs to be opened. During the procedure, a 12-inch incision is made and ribs are cut to remove and replace a diseased lung with a healthy human lung from a donor.

But the new technology used by the Spanish team no longer requires breaking the patient’s ribs.

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Instead, surgeons at the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona used smaller cuts on the side of the rib cage to accommodate the robot’s arms and 3D cameras.

“This incision is made under the breastbone, where the skin is very stretchy. This allows us to just open the skin and insert this lung little by little,” said Dr. D’hebron hospital.

The new lung was also “deflated” in the operating room so that it could enter through the narrow incision, which was about 8cm.

Improves quality of life and reduces pain

According to Jauregui, the new procedure is less painful for the patient as the wound closes more easily.

“We believe it is a technique that will improve patients’ quality of life, post-operative period and reduce pain. We hope this technique will eventually spread to more centers,” he added.

Xavier, 65, has become the first patient in the world to undergo a fully robotic lung operation.

He needed a transplant due to a condition called pulmonary fibrosis, which causes the lining of the lung to become thick and scarred.

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“From the moment I regained consciousness and woke up from the general anesthesia, I had no pain,” she said.

The four-armed robot used in the procedure is called the Da Vinci, a robotic surgical system commonly used in hospitals across Europe and the United States for cardiac, urological, gynecological, pediatric and general surgery.

A similar operation was performed at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, but the robot was only partially used there.

Spain is the world leader in organ transplants, according to data from the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation, making 5% of organ donations worldwide in 2021.

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