Pinoy doctor pioneers opioid-free robotic surgery in Philadelphia

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Dec 20 2018 01:10 AM | Updated as of Dec 20 2018 09:26 AM

A Filipino doctor at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is making history in robotic surgery and prevention of opioid addiction among patients.

Dr. Ian Soriano, a University of the Philippines Integrated Liberal Arts and Medicine graduate, together with plastic surgeon doctor Suhail Kanchwala made history by performing the world’s first robotic bilateral breast reconstruction surgery at the U-Penn.
"Specifically for breast reconstructions, studies have shown that one in 20 patients will be requiring narcotics 3 years and 5 years after the initial surgery.. So it’s significant for us to minimize patient’s pain," said Soriano, Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at U-Penn.
He said patients wake up in post-surgery with no pain so they are sent home without the need for prescribing pain narcotics.

"So now, patients are not at risk at all for becoming opioid dependent, I think with the opioid crisis that really is the significance of what we’re doing here," he said.

Instead of breast implants, Soriano’s team uses tissues from the patient’s own lower abdomen to replace lost tissues or rebuild their breasts.

"When we do this robotically, we can make the smallest incision possible, that’s the whole point of the whole thing," said Kanchwala, Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery at U-Penn.

This minimally invasive procedure results in pain-free post surgery recovery.

"To have a patient wake up, wake up feeling great, and leave the hospital without ever touching a narcotic, once that happens it becomes something that you really realize just how powerful this kind of thing can be because you really immediately see the impact of your work," Kanchwala said.

Patients receive over-the-counter medicine like motrin or tylenol for pain, instead.

As a UP alum and a consultant to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Soriano is now involved in bringing this robotic surgery to the Philippines, possibly as early as January 2019.

"Someone asked me if this could be done in the Philippines. The challenge will be finding experienced plastic surgeon who could do microvascular surgery and I know of a couple of them, at PGH, who if they partnered with some of those laparoscopic surgeons can definitely do this in the Philippines," he said.

From UP to U-Penn, this Filipino is making the world a better place by his surgical innovation that does not require highly addictive narcotic pain killers, a step in the right direction when it comes to the US opioid crisis.