Robots helping surgeons to greater success

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The robots are taking over at Prince of Wales Private Hospital – well, not quite, but they have been helping the surgical team to even greater success.

More than 200 robotic procedures have been performed at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney since the launch of its multi-disciplinary robotics program in October last year.

The hospital’s general manager, Robert Cusack, said the program had been more successful than anyone anticipated.

 “We were told that 100 robotic cases in our first year would be a good outcome,” he said.

“So, to have surpassed the 200 mark is really above and beyond our best case expectations.”

Using the da Vinci Xi Surgical System by Device Technologies, the hospital has performed robot-assisted cases across general, urology, cardiothoracic, colorectal and gynaecology surgical specialties.

Dr Shing Wong, colorectal and general surgeon, performed the hospital’s very first robotics case in 2018 using the da Vinci System and is one of the hospital’s most experienced robotic surgeons.

He said bowel resections for malignant and benign diseases were among his most common robotic surgical cases.

“The robot is especially helpful when operation on patients with high BMI (body mass index) and dense adhesions,” Dr Wong said.

“It provides magnified three-dimensional vision, an advanced set of instruments and a level of precision not previously available using minimally invasive methods.

“Prince of Wales Private Hospital has made the robot accessible to a range of surgeons and specialties, which results in improved outcomes for more patients.”

Among those to benefit from the hospital’s multi-disciplinary program approach are patients under cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr Levi Bassin and Dr Hugh Wolfenden.

The doctors perform a range of surgeries together at Prince of Wales Hospitals, including minimal access coronary surgeries and mitral valve repairs.

“Whilst the safety profile of robotic is similar to open surgery to date, the sternal bone isn’t cut, which reduces bleeding, pain and the prospect of infection,” Dr Wolfenden said.

“The three arms of the robot are essentially like an extension of the surgeon’s arms and hands – it allows complete dexterity through tiny incisions.”

Dr Bassin added robotic surgery was a game-changer for patient recovery times.

“Most robotic surgery patients return to virtually full capacity within four weeks,” he said.

“Open surgery however, can take six weeks to back to work for a sedentary job, or three months for a physically demanding occupation.”

Mr Cusack said the rates of robotic surgery across Australia were growing rapidly.

“But the momentum we have at Prince of Wales Hospital is down to multiple factors coming together in a well-planned way,” he said.

“Firstly, we have a team of incredibly skilled, internationally-trained surgeons, who choose to operate here.

“Also, the sophistication of the da Vinci System, plus the training and support from the supplier, Device Technologies, is very high.

“When you combine this with the hospital’s agility around new technologies and the quality of patient care provided, we’ve been able to shine in this rapidly emerging and exciting area of surgery.”

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