Lifespan Cancer Institute

Surgeon Performs Rhode Island’s First Robotic Whipple Surgery

Lifespan Cancer Institute Offers Quality Care

When Valerie Young, 62-years-old, of East Providence, RI learned she had an advanced stage of cancer in her small intestine, the only thing she wanted to do was get it out of her body. Subhashini Ayloo, MD, MPH, FACS, chief of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, made that happen. What led to this successful surgery was nearly a year of planning, preparation, and determination between patient and doctor, and the skilled experience, medical advancements, and technological resources of the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

An Experienced Doctor for an Advanced Case

Dr. Ayloo specializes in hepato pancreatico biliary (HPB) surgery, surgical oncology, liver transplantation, and general surgery. She discovered the cancer in Young’s small intestine, which was abutting her pancreas, was very close to major blood vessels and would have to be shrunk to perform the recommended robotic surgery. Young underwent months of chemotherapy, which did shrink the cancer, allowing Dr. Ayoo to use a robot to perform the complex minimally invasive surgery (MIS), which involved the Whipple procedure, the removal of the head of the pancreas.

The surgery took seven hours to complete. Dr. Ayloo is one of a handful of doctors worldwide trained to perform this type of surgery, where robotic arms replicate what the human arm and fingers can do through tiny incisions. Unanimous findings indicate that any operation performed in an MIS technique has better patient outcomes. For Young, the results were a quicker healing period, less pain during recuperation, and minimal scarring – just mosquito bite size in her case – and no sign of cancer.

Subhashini Ayloo, MD, MPH

Robot Assists Surgeon

Subhashini Ayloo, MD, MPH performed the first robotic surgical procedure for  advanced stage of cancer of the small intestine in Rhode Island. Watch as both doctor and patient discuss the life-saving surgery with NBC10’s Barbara Morse.

Watch the story on WJAR NBC 10

Pioneering Techniques for Other Cancers 

The minimally invasive surgery that Dr. Ayloo performed on Valerie Young can have equally positive results on other types of upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Find out more about the Upper Gastrointestinal Multidisciplinary Clinic, a program of the Lifespan Cancer Institute at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals. It is the only one of its kind in the state: entirely dedicated to the compassionate care of patients with upper gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies.