About Dr. Fontaine

Dr. Jacques 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.

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Robotic surgery is an advanced surgical technique that assists doctors with a variety of complex procedures. While seated at a computer console, surgeons at the Moffitt Institute for Robotic Cancer Surgery control robotic arms fitted with tiny precision tools that cut, grasp and cauterize.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the Tampa-based surgeons are trained on the da Vinci Surgical System, which allows for unparalleled precision and accuracy. 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, ultimately reducing trauma to the body.

Source: YouTube (Moffitt Cancer Center)

For patients, benefits of robotic surgery may include a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, fewer complications and smaller scars. 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.

His experience performing robotic surgeries on a regular basis has led to numerous patients traveling to the Tampa Bay area. Moffitt Institute for Robotic Cancer Surgery regularly serves patients from Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Ft. Myers, Vero Beach and Miami due to being one of a select few multispecialty robotic programs in the U.S. and the largest in the Southeast.

Dr. Fontaine and the team at Moffitt have emerged as national leaders in robotic and minimally invasive techniques, performing more yearly esophageal and lung cancer surgeries than any other center in the United States.

The Tampa-based surgeons provide robot-assisted surgical options for many types of cancers, including:

  • Thoracic cancer surgery (lung cancer, mesothelioma and esophageal cancer)
  • Gastrointestinal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Gynecologic cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Get in touch with Dr. Fontaine to learn more about robotic surgery.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery offers several benefits to patients including shorter hospital stays, speedier recovery and fewer complications.

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. This makes it easier for patients from nearby cities, such as Sarasota, Clearwater and St. Petersburg, to travel to Tampa for treatment. Now, more patients from the Southeast region of the U.S. can receive the very best care.

Faster Recovery

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.

Reduced 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, minimizing blood loss during the procedure. The need for blood transfusions is lower following certain robotic procedures, which makes it easier for patients to return home faster.

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. A lower risk of complications can help patients feel more comfortable and secure in their treatment decisions, in addition to making it easier to travel to and from Tampa for surgery.

Postoperative Quality of Life Improves

Because Moffitt’s robotic procedures often lead to less postoperative pain, smaller incisions and shorter hospital stays, many patients report a better quality of life throughout recovery. With traditional surgical methods, recovery can be more challenging because of complications and blood loss. Robotic surgery overcomes this recovery obstacle and improves patient health and happiness.

“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 that 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 percent), 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.

Fontaine is the program director for Moffitt’s 12-month Robotic Surgery Fellowship in Tampa, Florida. Led by 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 Moffitt, Tampa or this fellowship, contact Fontaine.

Location & Hours of Operation

Moffit Cancer Center

12902 Magnolia Drive | Tampa, FL 33612


Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center
U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals - 2014-2015
National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center
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