b'IN CRISIS COURAGEDoctors are now able to do highly complex operations PHYSICIANS WITH PRECISIONin more patients. Robotic technology is helping surgeons in the operating room. The 3D imaging and stability is far better than THE PATIENT PERSPECTIVE previous minimally invasive equipment, says thoracic and While Brannock was still processingcardiovascular surgeon Edward Gerhardt, MD, her diagnosis, she liked the idea offormer Chief of Surgery at Cone Health. He adds Dr. Lightfoot using the roboticthat the instruments needed for each case technology. I thought, Well,may seem more complicated, but in reality, this sounds really good, less instrumentation than conventional she says.How could itprocedures is needed. be any better?To her surprise and delight, Brannock soon discovered things could in fact be better. Today, she is cancer free. She has some small scars around her chest but recovered quickly. That, according to doctors who use this technology, is one of the major benefits to this type of procedure. Dr. Lightfoot says he has had some patients go home one or two days after surgery compared to four or five days after more-invasive surgery. Weve had several people go back to work two or three weeks after major lung surgery, which is really unheard of, says Dr. Hendrickson.Brannock credits her quick recovery to her positive attitude and the minimally invasive robotic surgery. SheOur experience has been nothing but positive, he knew other people in her church group who had more-Surgeons at Moses Cone Hospital began doing thissays. I was a little bit skeptical that it would make a hugeinvasive procedures done and were not recovering asdifference, but it does. Its very straightforward to use, very quickly. Brannock is certain she made the right decision.intuitive, and it really does allow you to do a better job than I just felt like I could breathe again, she says. It wasrobotic surgery in January 2021, and theyre on track without the robot.like a new me. I was back to me. to complete about 150 procedures before the end of theThe doctors agree that one benefit outweighs them all. Life today has gone back to normal for Brannock. Afteryear. Most programs may do 75 to 100 cases a year, Its all about the patient outcomes, says Dr. Hendrickson.Its all about the patient outcomes.major lung surgery, she walks an hour a day, rides herDr. Lightfoot says. Our volume of cases is going toThe latest technology gives patients the best chance of bicycle and spends time at the beach with her husband. continue to deepen our experience in providing this care. doing well. It makes it easier for me to do a good job for theThe latest technology gives patients We have a good life. We go, go, go, she says. Dr. Hendrickson says theyre turning to roboticpatient and that patients outcome is likely to be better. the best chance of doing well.Doctors are also seeing less pain in recovering patients.technology in about 90% of their thoracic operations. Their patient focus made a big difference to Brannock. People are requiring much less in the way of narcotics andThey kept my mind at ease from the beginning, she says. STEVEN HENDRICKSON, MDgetting off narcotics quicker, says Dr. Hendrickson. HeThey were right there to talk to me and explain everything says there are exceptions to every rule, but by and large,that was going on. That meant a lot to me. people are doing better with less pain. Doctor and Patient Reunite She continues, Dr. Lightfoots whole staff was so kind Theyre also sending fewer patients to the ICU afterCLICK OR SCAN QR CODE TO PLAY VIDEO and knowledgeable. When you go through something likeThis photo: Edward Gerhardt, MD; Harrell Lightfoot, MD; surgery. According to Dr. Lightfoot, patients have allWatch the reunion of Donna Brannock andthis, you have so many questionssometimes you dontand Steven Hendrickson, MD been sent to the step-down unit with less bleeding andDr. Lightfoot and hear more about her story as welleven know the questions to ask, and the answers are hardOpposite, clockwise: Donna Brannock; Dr. Hendricksonmore tolerable pain. Thats really a big change, a bigas the possibilities robotic thoracic surgery brings toto hear. I know he saved my life. I know it without (at console) and Dr. Gerhardt (at controls)improvement thats important to us and our patients. Cone Health. a doubt. 20 / CONE HEALTH HEART & VASCULAR / 21'