About Dr. Fontaine
Dr. Fontaine is considered a leader in robotic (DaVinci) surgery and serves as the Program Director for the Robotic Surgery Fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.Make an Appointment
Robotic surgery, also known as da Vinci surgery, is a cutting-edge surgical technique that assists doctors with a variety of complex procedures. While seated at an advanced computer console, the surgeon controls several robotic arms fitted with small precise tools. These instruments perform cutting, grasping, cauterizing and other tasks during the surgery.
This technologically advanced technique is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open surgery, which usually requires a large incision. Doctors can complete robotic surgery through a few small incisions, reducing trauma to the body.
For patients, benefits may include a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and fewer complications. Because the technique is less invasive than traditional surgery, patients who are not good candidates for traditional surgery may sometimes qualify for a robot-assisted procedure.
In addition, the technology provides surgeons with improved 3-D vision, dexterity and precision throughout the operation. An arm on the robotic system contains a magnifying 3-D camera that produces a highly detailed view — one that surpasses the ability of the human eye — of the operating area.
Patients at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, can seek the expertise of Dr. Jacques Fontaine, one of the few thoracic surgeons in the nation who specializes in robot-assisted lung and esophageal cancer surgery.
Moffitt Cancer Center provides robot-assisted options for many types of procedures, including:
- Thoracic cancer surgery
- Gastrointestinal cancer surgery
- Head and neck surgery
- Gynecologic cancer surgery
- Genitourinary cancer surgery
Benefits of Robotic Surgery
Robotic-assisted surgery offers several benefits to patients:
Shorter Hospital Stay
The length of your hospital stay will vary depending on the procedure, but robotic surgery patients are typically released much sooner than those treated with open surgery. Most patients who have robotic lung surgery average only three days in the hospital. Some operations may only require an overnight stay.
Because surgical cuts made with robotic surgery are smaller than with traditional techniques, most patients have less pain and recover sooner. However, your recovery time will largely be determined by the type of procedure you receive, as well as any possible complications that may arise. A high protein diet, daily walks and exercise and a positive attitude certainly make the recovery faster. You should be up and walking around as soon as the morning after your operation.
Less Blood Loss
The combination of a magnified 3-D view and precision instruments allows robot-assisted surgeons to perform much more delicate and accurate dissection of tissues and organs, helping to minimize blood loss during the procedure. The need for blood transfusions is lower following certain robotic procedures.
Lower Risk of Complications
Serious complications such as pneumonia, infections and death may occur after any surgery, but may occur less frequently after robotic surgery because of smaller incisions, reduced blood loss and more delicate dissections.
The goal of surgery is to get the entire cancer out and to do it safely. For this reason, it is important to note that not every patient is a candidate for robotic surgery.
Overview of the Procedure
Before the operation, you will be given general anesthesia to put you to sleep and keep you free of pain throughout the procedure. Next, the surgeon will make a few small incisions that allow the camera and robotic instruments to access your body.
The surgeon will then insert a robotic arm fitted with a 3-D camera, which projects a magnified, high-definition view of the operating area directly to a screen in front of the surgeon.
When all preparations are complete, the surgeon will sit at a computer console near the operating table. The console contains hand and foot controls that allow the surgeon to manipulate the robotic arms and the attached tools during the procedure. The controls allow for extremely precise movements and effectively eliminate any tremor in the surgeon’s hands. Another doctor will remain by your side to adjust the tools as necessary.
Next, the surgeon inserts the instruments needed to handle, cut and stitch tissues and other structures throughout the procedure. Once the operation is complete, doctors will remove the tools and close the incisions with stitches.
On rare occasions (less than 5%), the operation cannot safely be completed using the robot-assisted tool alone because of scar tissue, bleeding or poor visualization. In these cases, the surgeon must “convert” and use traditional cuts to complete the procedure.
Robotic Surgery Fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is an attractive destination for surgeons around the world seeking educational experience in robotic surgery. Dr. Fontaine is the Program Director for Moffitt’s 12-month Robotic Surgery Fellowship. Led by Dr. Fontaine and Dr. Eric Toloza, this fellowship offers recently graduated thoracic surgeons an exceptional opportunity for additional in-depth training in robotic surgery. For more information about this fellowship, contact Dr. Fontaine.