Robotic surgery helps Austin patients fight cancer

FILE - Doctor's office (KXAN Photo)
FILE - Doctor's office (KXAN Photo)

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Another new miracle of modern medicine has arrived in Austin. It is robotic surgery at Texas Oncology and it recently enabled their first patient to have her cervical cancer removed while leaving her still able to bear children.

Allison Schulz, a fifth grade teacher in Round Rock got the news about her cancer and had the options of a radical hysterectomy or radiation treatment, both of which would meant she could never have a child.

Then she was offered another alternative: to be the first in central Texas to have the robotic laparoscopic surgery that would remove her cancerous cervix but keep her uterus intact. Her reaction? She says, “I wasn’t worried about it at all. I really trusted Dr. Loar.”

The surgeon performs the procedure using small finger grips and foot pedals to control the robotic arms and tools. It is surgery far less invasive.

Dr. Paul Loar at Texas Oncology explains, “It’s the present and the future, especially in my sub specialty, probably the majority of us are doing minimally invasive surgery now because we see the benefits to the patients.”

Microsurgery is the coming thing with many applications, and not a moment too soon for patients. Dr. Thomas Neal Payne, medical director at the Texas Institute for Robotic Surgery, says, “You have less pain, less bleeding, less complications, return to work quicker. Which is a major advantage. The advantage of robotics over traditional laparoscopy is robotics allow you to do that type of procedure more often.”

Allison now has a clean bill of health and was back to her gymnastic class in a few months. She says, “I was really lucky knowing it was very early stage so the prognosis was real good. I felt confident after that things would be good but I was definitely excited when they said the words to me, you’re cancer free.”

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