Somerset Medical Center Offers Innovative Robotic Surgery To Treat Sleep Apnea Medical Center’s Surgeons Were New Jersey’s First to Perform TransOral Robotic Surgery

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As part of its commitment to provide patients and the community with the latest and most advanced treatment options, Somerset Medical Center was the first hospital in New Jersey to perform TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for the treatment of oral, head and neck disorders. The medical center recently introduced TORS for the surgical management of obstructive sleep apnea.

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As part of its commitment to provide patients and the community with the latest and most advanced treatment options, Somerset Medical Center was the first hospital in New Jersey to perform TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for the treatment of oral, head and neck disorders. The medical center recently introduced TORS for the surgical management of obstructive sleep apnea.

TORS is an innovative, minimally invasive technique allowing physicians to access areas of the throat with the da Vinci Surgical System® that are otherwise difficult to reach. Compared to traditional open surgery, TORS provides surgeons with enhanced agility and precision, a three-dimensional advanced imaging system, and fewer limitations within the operative field. This procedure is performed strictly through the mouth, eliminating cosmetic disfigurement, and ultimately improving the patient’s quality of life.

Somerset Medical Center’s ear, nose and throat specialists-Adrianna Hekiert, M.D., and Amy Lazar, M.D.-are two of only three trained physicians in New Jersey certified to perform these procedures and are among only a few surgeons trained in TORS across the country for the treatment of sleep apnea and selected head and neck cancers.

Dr. Hekiert performed New Jersey’s first TORS procedure last fall at Somerset Medical Center. She and Dr. Lazar are otolaryngologists in private practice at ENT and Allergy Associates® LLP in Somerville.

Sleep apnea is a common condition that blocks airflow to the lungs during sleep. Treatment options include nightly use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or surgery. Robotic surgery now allows sleep apnea to be treated at the root cause, by removing the obstructive tissue at the base of the tongue that interferes with breathing.

“Somerset Medical Center has broadened the available treatment options for those suffering from sleep apnea”, said Adrianna Hekiert, M.D., “by providing patients with the choice of having specially trained surgeons that use state-of-the-art technology during the operation.

“It is important to note that surgeons use the da Vinci robot as a tool and each precise movement is controlled by the surgeon. Compared to traditional surgeries, TORS leaves patients with fewer complications, reduced pain, shorter hospital stays, no scars and, most importantly, faster recovery.”

"Being one of the first in the state to perform TORS to cure sleep apnea puts Somerset Medical Center at the forefront of finding safe and effective ways to treat this prevalent sleep disorder. Most importantly, it allows our patients to recover quicker and have fewer complications on the operating table,” said Otolaryngologist Amy Lazar, M.D. “It's a great honor to bring this groundbreaking, advanced technique to the community in an effort to provide our patients with the best care possible."

Dr. Lazar’s TORS sleep apnea patient Ron Krilla, 69, of Bridgewater, underwent robotic-assisted base of tongue reduction at Somerset Medical Center in June and was released from the hospital two days later. The day of his procedure Krilla was able to speak and swallow. Later that week he visited Somerset Medical Center to watch a demonstration of the da Vinci robot and even tested it out.

“I could not have been more satisfied with the results and am extremely happy that I opted for this life changing procedure,” Krilla said. “I noticed an improvement in my breathing pattern and level of comfort when I went to bed the very next day. The minor discomfort that follows the procedure pales in comparison to the improved quality of life I have experienced, I sleep better, have more energy and will potentially live longer thanks to this procedure.

Candidates for this procedure are first assessed by Dr. Hekiert or Dr. Lazar through a comprehensive examination, in which they review the patient’s sleep patterns and visualize the upper airway anatomy with a small camera.

The next step is sleep nasoendoscopy or SNE - a new cutting-edge technique to diagnose the actual site of obstruction. It is a minor procedure, where the patient is given a low-dose anesthetic to mimick natural sleep conditions when apnea occurs. During SNE, a flexible endoscope is briefly passed from the nose into the upper airway and real time snoring and apnea can be observed. The patient’s unique anatomic pattern of upper airway collapse is localized, and may include one or more of the following sites: soft palate and tonsils, tongue base, epiglottis and sidewalls of the throat. This information is then used as a directed guide for selecting appropriate surgical treatment.

If airway blockage due to a large tongue base is confirmed, the patient is offered TORS. The typical TORS candidate has either tried CPAP and was not able to tolerate it, or continues to experience apneic events despite using the mask.

In addition to TORS, Somerset Medical Center’s Institute for Robotic Surgery offers treatment options for prostate, kidney, gynecological and colorectal cancers.

“We are proud to be one of only a few community hospitals to offer this advanced technology,” said Maureen Schneider, PhD (c), MSN, MBA, RN, CNE. BC, CPHQ, FACHE, senior vice president of clinical development and chief nursing officer at Somerset Medical Center. “Our robotic surgery program has grown tremendously over the past year and it is very exciting to see our robotic surgeons breaking new ground in the treatment of oral, head and neck disorders, including sleep apnea. Our surgeons are supported by a dedicated team of OR nurses who have specialized training in robotic surgery.”

Dr. Hekiert, in practice with ENT and Allergy Associates in Somerville, NJ, is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. She is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, the American Rhinologic Society, and the Society of Robotic Surgery. Dr. Hekiert specializes in adult and pediatric ENT, minimally invasive surgical treatment of sinus disorders, management of obstructive sleep apnea with cutting-edge robotic technology, as well as salivary, thyroid and parathyroid gland surgery.

Dr. Lazar, also in practice with ENT and Allergy Associates in Somerville, NJ, is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, and she is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and Heck and Neck Surgery, the American Rhinologic Society, and the Society of Robotic Surgery. Her scope of practice includes pediatric and adult ENT, treatment of sinus disorders using state-of -the-art technology including Balloon Sinuplasty and 3D image guidance, snoring and obstructive sleep apnea surgery, and endocrine and salivary gland surgery.

To learn more about robotic surgery at Somerset Medical Center, visit http://www.somersetmedicalcenter.com/robotic or call 800-443-4605 for a physician referral.

To learn more about ENT and Allergy Associates LLP please visit http://www.entandallergy.com

About Somerset Medical Center
Somerset Medical Center is a nationally accredited, regional medical center providing comprehensive emergency, medical/surgical and rehabilitative services and a broad range of community programs to Central New Jersey residents. It is nationally recognized as a Magnet® hospital for nursing excellence. The medical center is an affiliate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a clinical research affiliate of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. For more information please visit http://www.somersetmedicalcenter.com.

About ENT and Allergy Associates
ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP, the largest practice of board certified Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons and Allergists in the nation, has 125 physicians in 37 offices. Each location provides access to a full complement of services, including General Adult and Pediatric ENT, Voice and Swallowing, Facial Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery, Disorders of the Inner Ear and Dizziness, Asthma, Clinical Immunology, Diagnostic Audiology, and Hearing Aid dispensing. Visit http://www.entandallergy.com for more information.

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