One of the prominent thoracic surgeons performing robotic procedures is Dr. Benny Weksler, a Brazilian native who is currently the Director of Robotic Thoracic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania*.
Dr. Weksler does a wide range of thoracic procedures using the daVinci robot including pulmonary lobectomies for cancer, esophagectomies for cancer, thymectomies for myasthenia gravis and thymoma, Heller myotomies for achalasia, Nissen fundoplications for GERD, repair of hiatal hernias, removal of mediastinal masses, correction of esophageal diverticula. He reports an overall annual surgical volume of approximately 450 cases, (with about 180 of these procedures using robotic technology.)
He also reports that the thoracic surgery department at UPMC is the largest esophageal center in the world, and does over 120 esophagectomies a year – and that 95% of these surgeries are done with minimally invasive techniques (via laparoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques).
Dr. Benny Weksler, MD, FACS
Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Director, Robotic Thoracic Surgery
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Hillman Cancer Center
5115 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Phone: (412) 648-6271
VA Medical Center
University Drive C
Pittsburgh, PA 15240
Phone: (412) 688-6000
Publications (an abbreviated selection of recently published works.)
Weksler B, Sharma P, Moudgill N, Chojnacki KA, Rosato EL. (2011). Robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy is equivalent to thoracoscopic minimally invasive esophagectomy. Dis Esophagus. 2011 Sep 7. [no free full text available.]
Weksler B, Nason KS, Mackey D, Gallagher A, Pennathur A. (2011). Thymomas and Extrathymic Cancers. Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Sep 30. [no free full text available].
Weksler B, Tavares J, Newhook TE, Greenleaf CE, Diehl JT (2011). Robot-assisted thymectomy is superior to transsternal thymectomy. Surg Endosc. 2011 Sep 5. [no free full text].
Berger AC, Bloomenthal A, Weksler B, Evans N, Chojnacki KA, Yeo CJ, Rosato EL. (2011). Oncologic efficacy is not compromised, and may be improved with minimally invasive esophagectomy. J Am Coll Surg. 2011 Apr;212(4):560-6; discussion 566-8. [no free full available]. Included since topic germaine to discussion.
Sivarajah M, Weksler B. (2010). Robotic-assisted resection of a thymoma after two previous sternotomies. Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Aug;90(2):668-70. [no free full-text available].
* Dr. Weksler was kind enough to answer my questions in a series of emails. I did not have the opportunity to visit Dr. Weksler or his program on site.