Dr. Lana Schumacher is a thoracic surgeon currently working at Allegheny Health Network. She double boarded in thoracic surgery and surgery. Dr. Schumacher trained at Stanford University Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Medical center. Her specialization is in the area of robotic thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology. In fact, she is serving as the director of this program at her hospital where hundreds of patients utilize the service. Furthermore, Dr. Lana Schumacher is a co-director of the Esophageal and Lung Institute and AHN lung cancer screening program as well as the associate director of the cardiothoracic residency program. Ultimately, all of her endeavors are driven by her passion for helping patients.
Could you explain what robotic thoracic surgery is for those unfamiliar with the concept?
So, it is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat certain lung and chest conditions. It is based on a robotic system that mimics the motions of the surgeon who is in control of the miniature tools. Those tools are inserted into the patient’s body through small incisions. Once there, they enable the doctor to do the procedure with an unparalleled level of precision. For example, in the past, a lot of the chest surgeries required large incisions. Nowadays, however, we can use robotics to complete everything with minor incisions.
Would you say that the invasiveness of the procedure is one of its main benefits?
Certainly so. When people needed these surgeries ten years ago, doctors would have to cut wide and spread the rib cage. Now, everything can be done with something as tiny as a paper cut.
What conditions are often targeted with this procedure?
Lung cancer is one of the most common diseases that can be treated. I am also able to treat various esophageal cancers and disorders. Of course, treating these forms of cancer depends on a couple of factors. For instance, a large tumor is usually not covered by this procedure. Certain locations are also not approachable via the robotic surgery. Regardless, there is a wide range of conditions that can be treated and completely resolved with this method.
What other benefits are related to robotic thoracic surgery?
There are a couple of different benefits. First, patients will not have to stay in the hospital for prolonged periods of time. Since it is a minimally invasive procedure, the recovery time is reduced. Thus, unlike with most other procedures, there will be no 24-hour, multi-day supervision. Patients are able to return to their daily activities much sooner.
How should patients prepare for their surgery?
The preparation is fairly similar to the way that people prepare for traditional surgeries. First, there a couple of things that must be done a few months ahead of time. That includes a consultation with your doctor to discuss any other conditions unrelated to the surgery. This would be the time when you disclose any and all medications that you might be currently taking.
Then, the patient should communicate with their insurance company. Certain providers and insurance plans treat robotic surgery differently. Thus, the patient should ensure that their procedure will be covered by their existing plan. If not, they should talk to the hospital about getting on a payment plan.
Lastly, as you get closer to your procedure, you should discuss progress with your physician. It is normal to get scared or to be nervous. Always arrive a few hours ahead of time and bring comfortable clothes. Doing so will minimize any issues and enable the hospital to complete the administrative side of things promptly.
As far as the preparation of your body, there are a couple of things to do. First, always avoid shaving the area where the robotic tool will be inserted at. Instead, leave this to the professionals. Also, avoid eating the night before as that will minimize the side effects of any anesthesia. Ultimately, do not bring any jewelry, makeup, or whatever might get in the way of a sanitary procedure.