SANANTONIO -- San Antonio surgeons have a new way to remove cancerous tumors from the throat. It involves a skilled doctor and a robot.

At San Antonio s Methodist Hospital, surgeons performed a groundbreaking procedure on Saturday, February 4, 2012. It was the city s first robotic surgery for throat cancer.

Head and neck surgeon Dr. Nathan Hales removed a cancerous tumor from the back of a woman s throat without having to go through her lip or jaw.

The da Vinci robot is positioned over the patient. Using delicate instruments, doctors are able to operate through the mouth, speeding recovery.

Instead of a seven to 10 day hospital stay, which is pretty average after a big resection, the average hospital stay after a robotic resection is three or four days, Hale stated.

The robot procedure takes about an hour compared to six to 12 hours for an open surgery.

Patients are able to eat and drink the next day instead of waiting for up to a week.

With no complex reconstruction necessary, Hales expects this to become a popular choice for people facing throat surgery.

As a head and neck surgeon, having one more tool or one more method that we can address these cancers, it s advantageous for all of us, Hales added. It gives us one more way to provide hope and help for patients.

The da Vinci robot has been used for gynecology and urology surgeries for years. It was approved by the FDA for throat surgery in 2009.

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