Dr. Eric Hoenicke Performs First Thoracic Procedure in Austin with da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System

AUSTIN, Texas—On June 23, 2010, Dr. Eric Hoenicke became the first surgeon in Austin to use the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System for a thoracic (chest) procedure. The da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System was used to perform a thymectomy, which is a surgical procedure in which the thymus gland—located in the chest—is removed. He performed the surgery at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

“Several approaches are available to surgically remove the thymus gland, the most common being a sternotomy, or open-chest, approach,” Eric Hoenicke, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, said. “A traditional sternotomy involves a cut down the center of the chest through the breast-plate, or sternum, to access the thymus gland. During robotic-assisted minimally invasive procedures, we can access that area through tiny incisions on the patient’s chest, which can greatly improve the patient’s recovery in addition to reducing scarring and pain.”

The da Vinci® System’s patented InSite® Vision System gives the surgeon a 3-D, 10 times magnified view of the operating field, which provides an excellent vision of delicate tissue and organs. The device is also “intuitive”—when the surgeon moves the control to the right, the robot’s instruments move to the right, giving the surgeon natural hand-eye coordination.

Additionally, the da Vinci® Surgical System has “wristed” instruments that mimic the movements of the surgeon’s hands and wrists, giving him/her excellent flexibility and control when operating on delicate tissue.

“For most patients, minimally invasive thoracic procedures performed with the da Vinci® Surgical System can offer more potential benefits than traditional open surgery, including a shorter hospital stay, less pain and scarring, less risk of infection, less blood loss and fewer transfusions, and a quicker return to normal activities,” Lisa Offord, Director of Surgical Services at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, said.

The da Vinci® Surgical System can also be used to treat coronary artery disease. Robotic surgical procedures may be performed to bypass diseased or blocked coronary arteries without the need for sternotomy in selected patients.