Northside Hospital - World’s First Robotic HIPEC Treatment for Ovarian Cancer Performed

World’s First Robotic HIPEC Treatment for Ovarian Cancer Performed

Posted on: January 16, 2012


A proven leader in cancer care, Northside Hospital leads the way in groundbreaking procedures for better outcomes and less-invasive treatments for ovarian cancer. Procedures like Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemoperfusion (HIPEC) and minimally invasive robotic surgery offer new hope for patients in the advanced stage of this disease. Now, Northside has combined these two state-of-the-art technologies, performing the first-ever reported robotic HIPEC case for ovarian cancer, Dec. 27, at Northside Hospital in Atlanta.

More cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed and treated at Northside Hospital than at any other hospital in Georgia. Growth of this disease is most often relatively silent and, by the time of diagnosis, it usually has spread throughout the abdominal cavity. Until recently, treatment options for patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer have only included surgery and conventional chemotherapy.  However, with HIPEC and robotic surgery, surgeons can potentially improve their odds and reduce the morbidity associated with traditional open procedures.

Performed during surgery, HIPEC delivers heated chemotherapy into the abdominal cavity, which allows a much higher dose of chemo to permeate the diseased tissue than could be accomplished conventionally. The heat increases the effectiveness of the chemo. After the surgeon removes as much visible cancer as possible, the heated chemo is circulated throughout the abdomen, for up to 90 minutes, in an effort to kill the remaining cancer cells.

Intra-abdominal chemotherapy has been recommended by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as the standard of care for select patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer. HIPEC has been associated with improved outcomes in other similar types of cancer, with fewer side effects than systemic chemo, and is being studied at several institutions as a potentially powerful weapon in the treatment of advanced-stage ovarian cancer.

Physicians at Northside have been performing HIPEC since 2008 and have performed more HIPEC procedures for ovarian cancer than any other hospital in the United States, 146 cases so far. Until now, HIPEC has only been performed in conjunction with laparoscopic or traditional open surgery. However, the rise in robotic surgery with the da Vinci® Surgical System has given surgeons even better tools to perform the most intricate of minimally invasive procedures and achieve better outcomes for their patients in a growing range of specialties including GYN oncology. Patients benefit from smaller incisions, less pain and scarring, reduced blood loss and need for transfusions, shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries and reduced risk of infection.

Ovarian cancer is typically not conducive to a laparoscopic procedure because the disease can hide and be hard to find. However, the improved dexterity and 3D vision of robotic technology allows hospitals and surgeons to successfully complete more complicated procedures. During the Dec. 27 case, the surgeon used the robot to remove all visible adhesions and cancer within the patient’s abdominal cavity prior to starting HIPEC. This marks the first time ever that robotic technology has reportedly been used, in conjunction with HIPEC, for the treatment of ovarian cancer. As a result the combination therapy, the patient was able to be discharged from the hospital two days after surgery and is recovering well.

Northside Hospital was one of the first hospitals in Atlanta to obtain robotic technology and leads the state in the number of GYN robotic surgeries performed each year. In fact, the hospital ranks in the top 5 percent of all robotic GYN programs in the United States.

“We have made considerable advances in our gynecologic oncology surgery program at Northside in recent years,” said Vicki Barnett, RN, director of surgical services at Northside Hospital. “We are very excited about this latest milestone, which only reinforces Northside’s position as the Georgia leader in the diagnosis and treatment of women’s cancers."

HIPEC is useful with newly diagnosed patients as well as with patients who have a recurrence with minimal disease. However, whether performed traditionally or with the robot, it is not appropriate for everyone. For more information about HIPEC at Northside, call 404-845-5665.

An NCI Community Cancer Center, Northside Hospital offers a comprehensive cancer care program that encompasses the entire cancer experience – from education, prevention and screening to diagnosis and treatment, research, support and survivorship.

Read more about Northside's Gynecologic Oncology Program.

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