First in Texas: Surgeon uses magnetic tools to reduce incisions in cancer surgery

Animation: How magnetic surgery works

In traditional laparoscopic surgery, tools are manipulated from inside slender tubes inserted through small incisions. In magnetic surgery, surgical tools are manipulated with a magnet on the skin, which eliminates the need for an incision and increases the field of motion.

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DALLAS – Aug. 29, 2018 – Nearly two decades ago, Dr. Jeffrey Cadeddu was watching TV when a lightbulb went off.  The program showed teens using magnetic studs to avoid piercings in their lips, and Dr. Cadeddu, a surgeon, realized the same principal could be applied to his work, reducing the number of incisions and resultant scars.

This summer Dr. Cadeddu performed the first of several magnet-assisted prostate cancer surgeries he has now done.

“Every hole you create in a patient has a risk associated with it. Every incision means increased pain, increased risk of hitting a blood vessel,” said Dr. Cadeddu, Professor of Urology and Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Cadeddu and his colleagues spent years developing the concept of magnetic-assisted surgery, reporting on their work in The Annals of Surgery. Though another company subsequently took up the mantel, when the FDA approved the first commercial magnetic-assisted laparoscopic surgery system, Dr. Cadeddu was delighted to make UT Southwestern one of the few medical centers in the country – and the first in Texas – to put the magnetic surgery device to use.

In magnetic surgery, multiple operative devices are inserted through an access point and then the magnetic device is controlled by a magnet on the skin over the abdomen. By contrast, conventional laparoscopic or robotic surgery requires an incision for each tool.

Prostate cancer surgery is typically performed with a robotic system that requires six incisions for the various surgical instruments and camera. “Going forward, five incisions or likely even less may become standard for this procedure,” Dr. Cadeddu said.

Dr. Ralph Deberardinis and his Lab Manager, Jessica Sudderth, looking at a western blot.
A grasper tool used in prostate cancer surgery can be operated by a magnet on the skin, eliminating the need for one incision. Photo credit: Levita

Last week, Dr. Cadeddu demonstrated the magnetic-assisted surgery technique for attendees at the Asia Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference in Brisbane, Australia. “My dream of doing magnetic surgery dates back to when I was a young faculty member, and it has finally come true,” said Dr. Cadeddu, who holds the Ralph C. Smith, M.D. Distinguished Chair in Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery.

Dr. Cadeddu’s research was supported by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: Advanced Technology Program. Dr. Cadeddu is an unpaid adviser for Levita Magnetics, the manufacturer of the magnetic device.

UT Southwestern Medical Center is recognizing its 75th year in 2018.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of 49 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S. and the only one in North Texas, is among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 15 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.4 million outpatient visits a year.