University of Wisconsin–Madison

Archive: Article highlights robotic tongue operation performed by UW surgeon

When it became too difficult for Bobby Pittman to swallow, he knew something was wrong. The pain that he had been experiencing in his throat for several weeks was a mass, the result of lymphoma. Mr. Pittman was referred to the UW Carbone Cancer Center where Gregory K Hartig, MD, Professor of Surgery in the Division of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery used a relatively new and minimally invasive robotic technique to remove the mass and restore Mr. Pittman’s ability to swallow.

Traditionally removing tumors at the back of the tongue and throat can be challenging because doctors can’t get an accurate view of the area. Often people needing such surgeries must undergo operations with large incisions made in their neck, or they have to have their lower jaw divided in order to remove their tumors. But thanks to the da Vinci surgery system, doctors are able to guide the robot’s miniature hands. “The advantage of this technique, is that you see things you couldn’t see before and are able to make surgical maneuvers on a smaller scale,” Hartig said.

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