In recent years, advanced robotic technology has enabled surgeons to provide a growing number of patients with complex medical conditions, minimally-invasive surgical treatment, rather than traditional open surgery. This is true at Hackensack Meridian Health Thoracic and Esophageal Oncology Program in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
The practice is home to board certified thoracic and cardiac surgeons Thomas L. Bauer, M.D. and Ziad Hanhan, M.D., who perform robotic thoracic surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC), Riverview Medical Center (RMC) and Ocean Medical Center (OMC). They began providing the procedure five years ago and recently completed their 500th case. This milestone reflects not only the increasing frequency of this leading-edge surgery but also the expertise of Dr. Bauer, chief of thoracic surgery at JSUMC and Dr. Hanhan, medical director of thoracic surgery at RMC.
Jim Quigley of Spring Lake Hts., N.J., had a melanoma surgically removed from his head earlier this year, but after further testing, it was found the cancer had spread to his lung. The 89-year-old’s oncologist Peter Mencel, M.D., referred him to Dr. Bauer, who is also medical director of Thoracic Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
“Jim had a tumor in his lung that we needed to remove,” Dr. Bauer said. “He’s a wonderful example of the benefits of robotic-assisted surgery.” Robotic surgery has several advantages over traditional surgery. Utilizing just a few small incisions and 3-D, high definition imaging, it provides patients with less blood loss, need for pain medication and scarring, decreased risk of infections and complications, quicker recovery time and shorter hospital stay.
“As you can imagine, my family and I had reservations about the surgery, but Dr. Bauer explained how it is done and really put us at ease,” said Jim. Dr. Bauer removed the tumor successfully in late August and Jim is well on his way to complete recovery. “I feel fine now. I had an overnight stay in the medical center but I was up and about and home the next day. It may be my generation, but I don’t like to take pain medication and I didn’t have to, any pain I had was not bad! I’m thankful for Dr. Bauer and the team, I felt comfortable and informed and couldn’t ask for a better experience.”
Jim is currently receiving radiation therapy to his original site to ensure his cancer is gone and is looking forward to going back to work as a starter at Howell Park Golf Course in January and spending time with his wife of 60 years Gerri and their family.
“Without the computerized, enhanced vision and precise control given to surgeons through our robotic-assisted surgical system, success stories like Jim’s would not be possible,” said Dr. Bauer. “The average length of stay post lobectomy, according the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, is four days. In the past, an 89-year-old would likely have been in the hospital even longer with months of recovery or perhaps would not have been eligible to receive surgical treatment at all. It’s truly amazing.”
Hackensack Meridian’s Thoracic Oncology Program offers a team approach to diagnosing and treating thoracic cancers, including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, mesothelioma, thymoma, and metastatic cancers to the chest region as well as first rib resections and other benign procedures of the esophagus. The multidisciplinary team includes thoracic surgeons, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, nurses and social workers who review patient cases and develop less invasive surgical techniques to quicken recovery and provide options not readily available locally.
Dr. Bauer has an office in the HOPE Tower on JSUMC’s campus, 19 Davis Ave., Neptune, NJ. Call 732-776-3690 to make an appointment. To make an appointment with Dr. Hanhan at his office in Red Bank, NJ, call 732-530-2410. For more information, visit https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/services/cancer-care/cancer-services/thoracic-and-esophageal-oncology/.
(photo titled ‘Jim at HOPE Tower’ caption)
Jim visited JSUMC’s HOPE Tower in October to receive radiation therapy.