Jeffrey A. Hagen, MD and Daniel S. Oh, MD in front of Xi robot

Jeffrey A. Hagen, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at Keck Medical Center of USC, (L) and Daniel S. Oh, MD, USC thoracic surgeon, are pictured in front of the da Vinci Xi robot.

Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California (USC) this summer became the first in Southern California and among the first west of the Mississippi to perform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved robotic-assisted procedure for a lung cancer patient using the latest, minimally invasive surgical system, the da Vinci Xi robot. In addition, USC chief of thoracic surgery, Jeffrey A. Hagen, MD, and Keck Medicine of USC thoracic surgeon, Daniel S. Oh, MD, will head the only worldwide training center located at Keck Medical Center of USC for other surgeons to learn how to use the Xi robotic system for thoracic procedures.

The new da Vinci Xi Surgical System robot created by Intuitive Surgical was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on April 1. The first FDA-approved thoracic surgical procedures were performed this summer, among them cases by Hagen and Oh. The new Xi robot is optimized for thoracic procedures. The robotic 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.

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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 Tom 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 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.

“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 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 three 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 of USC. “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.”

by Sherri Snelling