Minimally Invasive and Robotic Thymectomy

What is minimally invasive and robotic thymectomy?

The first step in most treatment plans for thymic cancer is to remove the thymus in a surgical procedure called a thymectomy. Because your thymus is located in the space between your lungs—near your heart, esophagus and windpipe—the experienced surgeons at Main Line Health use advanced tools to carefully and precisely remove it.

In the past, surgeons had to remove the thymus by making a big incision in the middle of your chest and splitting your breast bone in half. New advances in surgery mean you don't need this large incision or a broken breast bone. Doctors now use the latest technology to make only a few small incisions and successfully remove your thymus.

What to expect from minimally invasive thymectomy

Minimally invasive (or laparoscopic) surgeries use many small incisions and specially designed tools. For a minimally invasive thymectomy, your doctor makes a few small incisions on the side of your chest. The doctor then fills the area with gas to create more space to work.

Your doctor will put an advanced camera, called a laparoscope, through one incision so they can see inside your body as they perform surgery. They then use other long, precise tools to snip away the thymus from surrounding tissues and stitch you up.

Minimally invasive surgeries offer many benefits. You can usually go home the day after your surgery. You have fewer risks of infection or bleeding with a minimally invasive surgery than with older surgery techniques. You will also feel much less pain and only need about two weeks, instead of six weeks, to recover fully from surgery and get back to your normal routine.

What to expect from robotic thymectomy

Robotic technology is now giving doctors the ability for even more minimally invasive procedures. During robotic surgeries, your physician controls tiny and powerful robotic arms. These arms can move in ways that laparoscopic tools can't, giving your physician a greater ability to perform surgery on hard-to- reach areas and make very precise cuts.

Robotic surgery systems also let your doctor see all around your thymus in a 3D view and see extremely magnified views of your body. This helps your doctor navigate more easily around important tissues like your lungs and esophagus.


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