500th Robotic Surgery

Uma Duvvuri, MD, PhD, reached a new milestone this year. He was recognized for performing his 500th robotic-assisted surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System.

The surgery was a resection of a “low-volume” tumor from the back of the throat that was amenable to surgical resection.

Dr. Duvvuri is the Director of Robotic Surgery, Division of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Advanced Robotics Training (CART) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He performed his first surgery in the early 2010s and now performs about 100 cases a year.

His first Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) was performed in Western PA before FDA approval. This is a minimally invasive option to remove head and neck cancers through the mouth. Dr. Duvvuri called it an exciting and innovative time. He is extremely grateful to his patients for entrusting his team with their care. “They really allowed us to push the field forward through their trust and commitment,” he said.

Since then, with Robert Ferris, MD, PhD, Director of the Hillman Cancer Center, Dr. Duvvuri has overseen a large clinical trial of about 570 patients from around the country treated with robotic surgery. This multi-institutional clinical trial led by UPMC and supported by The Eye & Ear Foundation was published this November in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Flexible robotics is the next wave in robotic surgery,” Dr. Duvvuri said. However, this technology has yet to be fully adopted in the field. There are many reasons for this, including the cost and availability of robotic systems.

“At UPMC Otolaryngology, we pride ourselves on continuing to innovate,” said Dr. Duvvuri. “We are currently pioneering robotic surgical approaches to the neck surgery. Essentially, we are now able to remove lymph nodes that are affected by cancer using a minimal approach. This reduces the incision size and improves the cosmetic, and hopefully, the functional outcomes of this surgery.”

Congratulations, Dr. Duvvuri! The Eye & Ear Foundation truly values your work!