Robots helping surgeons where hands can’t reach

| Friday, April 10, 2015 - 14:20
First Published |

Robots helping surgeons where hands can’t reach

To remove tumours and perform surgeries where their hands cannot reach, doctors are now using 5 mm thin robotic hands to access the affected part in a minimally invasive way.

Imported from America, the sophisticated Da Vinci Surgical System provides special wristed instruments that can mimic the real-time hand movements of a surgeon while operating upon a patient.

Away from the patient, the surgeon sits inside a console where he sees everything through a 3D high-definition vision system.

Dr Shantanu Panja of Apollo Hospital, Kolkata, who recently operated successfully upon a 59-year-old man having malignancy at the root of the tongue, said using the robotic system was as good as doing it with his own hands.

“As I moved my hands in the console, the robotic system’s hands also bended and rotated in exactly the same way. It was precise and as good as real,” he told PTI.

Had it not been for the robot, the doctor would have had to break the patient’s jawbone in order to access the tumour. But with its thin 5 mm hands and seven-axis movement, the machine could easily reach the affected part of the mouth in a minimally invasive way.

“Traditional open surgery to remove cancer requires long incision through the jaw and throat. The surgery may also need to break the jawbone to access the tumour.

“This can cause disfigurement as well as difficulty in eating, speaking and swallowing. Reconstructive or plastic surgery may be also needed to rebuild the bones or tissues removed during surgery,” the Head and Neck Surgery specialist doctor said. The robot makes the surgery not only painless but also bloodless.

Dr Panja said the robots can be used by specialists in different parts of the body for various types of surgeries where access is an issue.

He said robotic surgery is precise with very low rate of complications, minimal need of tracheotomy (breathing tube), minimal need of chemo radiation therapy, ability to swallow following surgery, short hospital stay and no visible scarring or disfigurement.

Dr Rupali Basu, President and CEO (Eastern Region), Apollo Hospitals, said they are pioneering the robotic surgery in eastern India.

“This particular class of surgery holds immense potential as a new ray of hope for lakhs of patients suffering from various critical malignancies. This is perhaps the first time this kind of important surgical procedure has been successfully performed in eastern India,” she said.

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