High-Tech Tumor Removal

January 2, 2019

With robotic assistance, surgeon removes a cancerous tumor from a Matawan man’s kidney.

In 2015, a slight seizure sent Matawan resident Mike Watson to the Emergency Department at Bayshore Medical Center. After he mentioned he’d been having some digestive issues, the ED staff ordered a computed tomography (CT) scan, which showed something on Mike’s kidney. Mike was referred to Emad Rizkala, M.D., a urologist affiliated with Bayshore and Raritan Bay Medical Center, to take a closer look at the spot on his kidney. What originally looked like it might be a cyst turned out to be a tumor, as confirmed by Dr. Rizkala via a CT scan. However, there was some good news: If he chose a surgical solution, Mike was a candidate for robotic-assisted surgery at Raritan Bay–Old Bridge using the da Vinci® Xi Surgical System.


Mike chose to undergo a partial nephrectomy, which preserves the healthy portion of the kidney while removing the tumor, performed by Dr. Rizkala with robotic assistance. The surgery lasted a couple of hours, and afterward, Mike felt good and was able to return home after just two days.

“I was surprised to see there were only little circular spots [where the incisions had been made],” Mike says. “Here I was thinking I was ripped wide open, but they healed up within a week. I had no real pain on the inside.” Within a month, his energy levels were back to normal. He was able to resume going on walks with friends and working around the house, where he likes to take on restoration projects. The decision to remove the tumor ended up being a good one: After it was removed, testing proved it was cancerous. Postsurgical tests also showed there was no cancer left in the remaining portion of the kidney.


“Robotic surgery has truly revolutionized how we operate nowadays,” Dr. Rizkala says. “The robotic arms are an extension of our own hands and imitate the way they move and rotate, so it’s very similar to traditional open surgery.” However, robotic surgery comes with several advantages over open surgery. “The pain is much less severe, blood loss is generally reduced, the incisions are much smaller, the hospital stay is generally shorter and recovery is quicker,” Dr. Rizkala explains. Patients like Mike are surprised by how easy recovery can be, even with major procedures. “It’s amazing today what they can do,” Mike says. “I felt safe and secure during the whole thing.”


In addition to expert surgeons, the team at the Center for Robotic Surgery at Raritan Bay includes nurse navigators to guide patients through every step of care. To learn more, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/RBMC/Robotic or call 1-800-822-8905.