Introduction: Robotic-assisted surgery continues to evolve. Technical advantages are reported for intracorporal suturing, a technique with a long learning curve in conventional laparoscopy. The success of laparoscopic fundoplication relies on precise suturing at the hiatus and of the fundal wrap. Therefore, robotic assistance can be a useful tool for this particular procedure. In March 2017, the Senhance® Surgical System (Transenterix, Inc., Morrisville, North Carolina) was introduced into robotic-assisted procedures at the St. Marien-Krankenhaus, Siegen, Germany.
Materials and methods: Between March 2017 and July 2019, we performed 36 surgeries of the upper GI tract with the Senhance® Surgical System. Eighteen patients underwent the classic Nissen fundoplication and are the subject of this study. All patients gave informed consent for robotic assistance with prospective data acquisition and analysis.
Results: Seven male and 11 female patients were included in the study. The median age of the cohort was 58.5 years (range 30-81 years) and the median body mass index (BMI) was 30.4 kg/m2 (range 22.7-40.1 kg/m2). The median total operative time was 95.5 minutes (range 68-194 minutes) and, despite the small sample size, we observed a significant learning curve throughout the study period (p<0.05). Before the introduction of the Senhance® Ultrasonic energy device, conversion to laparoscopic fundoplication was necessary in two patients. We performed one re-do laparoscopy on the day of surgery due to pain without any significant intraoperative findings and one laparoscopic revision to Toupet fundoplication after seven months due to dysphagia.
Conclusion: This first report of robotic-assisted Nissen fundoplication with the Senhance® Surgical System demonstrates technical feasibility. After successful introduction of the Senhance® Ultrasonic, our conversion rate to standard laparoscopic surgery was significantly reduced.