When a patient needs surgery, there is one thing they don’t mind hearing: that it will be minimally invasive and involve less pain.

“Once they hear that, they are generally really happy,” said Dr. Piotr Dumicz, a cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgeon with CarolinaEast Physicians.

To that end, he’s become adept at working with the da Vinci Surgical System at CarolinaEast. “It’s very clever,” he said of the system that allows surgeons to operate through just a few small incisions and magnified high-definition optics.

He’s was one of the first in the area to use the system four years ago. And as of this fall, he’s also been working with CarolinaEast’s second da Vinci robotics-assisted system, the latest version of the technology.

“The camera can be inserted in a small incision. The instruments are excellent and the visualization is superb,” he said. “ It’s a great tool. I have been pleased with the results.”

He uses them both in surgery, but compares the systems to cars. “I always said the first system was a Mercedes. I guess this one would be a Lamborghini.”

Because of the minimally invasive nature of the system, it’s a good choice for some patients who may not tolerate more involved procedures, he said. Traditional surgeries he performs, for example, may involve opening the chest and breaking the ribs. “For older patients, or others who may not be well suited to a long recovery process, it is much better for them.”

The technology was originally created in the 1990s to assist with heart surgeries, Dumicz said. But over the years, doctors have realized the technology is much better suited to other surgeries, like gynecological and urological procedures. Over the past two decades, da Vinci Surgical Systems have been used for more than 3 million procedures, from hysterectomies to hernia repair, according to the company. During this kind of surgery, the surgeon sits at a console while viewing a 3D image of the patient’s target anatomy. The surgeon’s hand movements are translated into precise, real-time movement of surgical instruments attached to three or four robotic arms.

Dumicz has found the robotic surgery system is well suited to the work he does in thoracic surgery, particularly lobectomies to remove portions of damaged lungs. For these surgeries, the system allows him to carefully remove the growth or damaged part of the lung that are sometimes only a few millimeters in size. The procedures are critical to the treatment of lung cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

“This is what we do for treatment for Stage 1 and 2 lung cancers,” Dumicz said.

And doing them in a minimally invasive way often has a good outcome.

“When you compare this to the standard, where the incisions can be 12 inches and there is significant pain and longer recovery, it’s can be much better,” he said.