Robotic surgery is an increasingly popular technique. Thanks to technological advances it is also becoming more and more accessible. A robotic arm imitates the gestures and movements carried out by a surgeon. This allows for considerable precision and leaves a smaller margin for human error. Robotic surgery was used for the first time in 1983 for orthopedic surgery. Since then it has come a long way and been refined for use in other specialties. Especially in recent years its application to various surgical specialties and in situations of increased complexity is becoming more common.

A major clinical study on lung cancer will compare the results that can be achieved with robotics technology and with a manual minimally invasive approach (which is currently considered the standard for the treatment of lung tumors in localized stage). Humanitas will be leading the study which is to be carried out with five other international centers.



Dr. Giulia Veronesi


What will the study on robotic surgery aim to reveal?

“Robotic surgery is the natural evolution of videothoracoscopy (VTS). VTS is a minimally invasive technique, currently the reference paradigm for the treatment of lung cancer in early stage. Robotic’s surgery advantages in terms of precision, quality of vision and ergonomics collectively have not been studied sufficiently with a scientific approach. The purpose of this study is precisely to verify these advantages in terms of objective results”, said Dr. Giulia Veronesi, director of robotic surgery within the Unit of General and Thoracic Surgery directed by Dr. Marco Alloisio.

“Robotic surgery technique also has the advantage of use even in a slightly more advanced stage of the disease. Given that it allows the removal of greater tumors of the hilar and mediastinal lymph nodes than videothoracoscopy.”


How will robotic surgery be a part of the future?

“Finally, we must consider that in Italy for example VTS is not yet widespread in all the centers. Subsequently, many surgeons practice the conventional ‘open air’ operation. This implies some side effects especially in terms of post-operative pain and recovery time which is often longer. We are also working to introduce robotic surgery to new types of intervention. These include benign and malignant diseases of the esophagus such as esophagectomy“, continues Dr. Veronesi.

Dr Veronesi concludes by saying: “We think that with the expansion in directions of the use of the robot there will be more competition between the producers and the consequent lowering of prices. This will make it accessible to a greater number of specialized centers. The main problems are the high cost of equipment and consequently the difficulty of finding surgeons with the necessary training. Training young doctors is another field in which Humanitas is working. Firstly by defining the lines of the robotic surgery guide. Secondly by being part of a small group of experts affiliated to the two leading European scientific societies of thoracic surgery (ESTS and EACTS).”