A French team of surgeons was able to successfully destroy metastatic cancerous tumors located in the liver using a robot. The last operation took place on July 7, 2020, at the Gustave Roussy Institute (Villejuif), just one month after another operation in Montpellier which was a world premiere, done not on metastasized tumors but rather on a primary liver tumor.
The same device was already used successfully once before
In both cases, in Villejuif and Montpellier, the same device from the French start-up Quantum Surgical was used with a common objective: to treat deep tumor lesions in the liver without cutting through the skin. “The procedure was perfect; the robot successfully completed its mission. This patient is fine; he left the hospital the next day,” said Prof. Thierry de Baere. The same satisfaction was expressed a month ago in Montpellier by the team of Pr Boris Guiu, head of the diagnostic and radiology department at CHU Saint-Eloi.
Robotic assistance for the surgeon
In practice, the traditional surgical approach to these liver tumors is always very difficult because at this level, whether they are tumors or metastases, everything is taking place deep, close to other organs in areas generally with large vessels with a high-risk for bleeding.
Everything begins with images obtained before the operation, which allows the surgical and radiological teams, to plan the parameters of the surgical procedure: that is, to determine the position, the axis, and the depth at which the needle must be inserted into the liver to apply the treatment-in this case the heat from microwaves-to destroy the metastases one by one.
The robot, equipped with its articulated arm, then comes to help the surgeon, and the imaging scanner guides the entire procedure during the operation. In addition to the precision and safety of the procedure, another advantage is the savings in radiological images taken during the operation. “Without the robot, we have to go step by step, checking several times with the scanner that we are following the previously planned path, often with several adjustments,” says Prof. de Baere. With the robot, patients do not need to be exposed to extra radiation during the operation. These two operations were the first in an ongoing clinical trial that is expected to include a total of 20 patients.