The RPA series on Channel 9 follows patients who bravely and generously share their stories. Filmed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, Sydney, this reality program shows the everyday workings of this major hospital, detailing the sicknesses and operation procedures of its patients.
In Episode 2 of the new series, which aired on 3 April 2023, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Baird Institute board member, A/Professor Christopher Cao had a starring role alongside his patient, Theo. After getting COVID, doctors discovered during a routine scan that father of 3, Theo, had a large lesion (the size of a small fist) in his chest.
Dr Cao explained to Theo that most surgeons would do a full chest opening – a sternotomy – to remove the tumour, but he on the other hand, typically utilises minimally invasive robotic surgery for this procedure – a revolutionary approach. During surgery, Dr Cao makes three small cuts of about 8mm on the side of the chest and inserts ports into the holes. Through the ports, Dr Cao is able to insert a number of instruments that he controls to separate the lesion from the heart and blood vessels and chest wall. This robotic surgery means that Theo will be in hospital for just 2 or 3 days, on painkillers for 2 to 3 weeks and he can go back to his physical activities in a much shorter period of time than if the lesion had been removed via a full chest opening. Luckily, all turned out well for Theo. See this episode, and all others in the series, on 9Now.