Robotic Colorectal Program Named an Epicenter

The George Washington University Hospital Robotic Colorectal Program has earned the distinction of being named a Colorectal Epicenter. Surgeons from throughout the nation will visit the GW Hospital and learn from Vincent Obias, MD, Director of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery. The GW Hospital was the first in the region to use the da Vinci system for robotic colon and rectal surgery.

Colorectal Surgery Using the da Vinci® Robot

The use of robotic surgery has a long history at GW Hospital. It was the first in DC to have the da Vinci robot and to use it for prostate cancer surgery. In 2009, GW Hospital became the first in the region to use the da Vinci system for robotic colon and rectal surgery.

During a robotic colectomy, surgeons remove cancerous portions of the colon and rectum, as well as benign tumors and polyps. A robot-assisted approach provides surgeons with the tools to more easily connect the two ends of the colon after the cancer has been removed. The procedure can be completed with a few tiny incisions, rather than the one long incision used in traditional open colon surgery.

Robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform complex rectal cancer surgery, which had been extremely challenging, in a minimally invasive manner. The robot provides improved visualization of the surgical site through 3D magnification, enhanced dexterity for manipulation and dissection of tissue, and greater precision.

The robotic procedure allows surgeons to finely dissect cancers of the rectum while possibly reducing nerve injury. A recent study has shown that surgeries using the robot are less likely to require conversion to an open procedure than colorectal procedures performed laparoscopically. The benefits to the patient may include:

  • Reduced pain and trauma to the body
  • Less blood loss
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery and return to work
  • Less scarring
  • A more precise surgery