Cancer is a relentless disease. Damaging organs and tissues in its wake, cancer can be insidious in its onset, hiding malignant cells and tumours in the most unreachable parts of the body. Early detection is a daunting challenge. Once detected, patients find it hard to accept its presence spending time in exploring alternative methods to banish cancer. Eventually calling for surgery, medication and a combination of Radiation and Chemotherapy.
But there is one hope on the horizon for sufferers of this most devastating of conditions. Robotic surgery methods can allow for hugely magnified views of the damaged tissue and provide very fine and precise instruments needed to get access to them inside the body and bring relief.
The Robotic Way
The da Vinci robot is no autonomous machine, performing surgery on a helpless patient with minimal interference from the surgeon. In fact, a trained surgeon is in charge every second of the way.
The da Vinci Surgical Robot that combines the best of science and medicine, is a whole 1000 kilos of hardware. Its brains are equivalent to software packed in several PCs. It includes 2250 plus patents with 1550 more pending and so is filled to the brim with innovation. What the robot adds is a way of seeing better and four flexible arms that enter the human body through tiny incisions can be guided to make the repair needed. It is the next breakthrough step in minimally invasive surgery and a major step up from laparoscopic procedures.
Dr T Subramanyeshwar Rao, Medical Director & Chief Surgical Oncologist, Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad says, “The distinct advantages of robotic assistance are high resolution 3-dimensional visuals and 10-fold magnification, wristed instruments with seven degrees of freedom of movement, filtration of tremors of surgeon’s hands and motion scaling to suit the speed and experience of a surgeon.”
When working with a da Vinci, the surgeon, a specialist not only in the use of the machine but also in her own field of surgery, sits at a console controlling the robotic arms and sending the right instrument to remove or repair tissue. Because it is so precise, there is less chance of collateral damage. And since the cuts and incisions needed to send the robotic arms are so tiny, the patient doesn’t have to suffer the trauma of traditional open surgery. A huge relief to just about anyone. It means negligible blood loss, less pain, quick recovery and shorter hospital stay.
Spelling out advantages of Robotic Surgery over laparoscopic surgery Dr C. Mallikarjuna, Managing Director & Senior Urologist, Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology, Hyderabad says, “Laparoscopic surgery is an extremely difficult field to practice. To perfect you need a lot of training, mentorship, and clinical practice. To excel it needs a lot of time and perseverance. da Vinci Robot makes that learning curve easy so that the expertise can come earlier. It literally means technology helps you get better in shorter time.”
Robotic surgery works best in areas involving soft tissue. It is certainly proving better than traditional surgery in many gynaecological cancers, head, and neck and thoracic surgery, removal of organs such as the kidney, liver, pancreas, thyroid, prostate, and uterus, urology ailments and even organ transplants. Robotic surgery is also being used more and more for paediatric patients. In this form of surgery, suturing is flawless.
The Roving Robot
The Vattikuti Foundation, Vattikuti Technologies and Intuitive Surgical Inc. have instituted a ‘Roving Robot’ project in which the surgical robot is being taken around the country for surgeons, hospital managements and local physicians to touch and feel a Surgical Robot and listen to one of the accomplished robotic surgeons in the country to share her experience and the benefits to patients.
“The ‘Roving Robot’ will help surgeons experience the capabilities of a da Vinci surgical robot in removing cancerous tissue while retaining healthy tissue,” says Gopal Chakravarthy, CEO, Vattikuti Technologies that distributes the da Vinci robot created by US-based Intuitive Surgical Inc., USA.
The Vattikuti Foundation and Vattikuti Technologies have helped expand robotic surgery to 47 hospitals in 20 Indian cities, in the past six years, while creating a ground swell of trained robotic surgeons. Vattikuti Foundation began promoting Robotic Surgery in the US in 1997 and has since played a stellar role in spreading it across the USA, Europe, and India.
Touring 4 key Andhra Pradesh cities
In the next leg of its country-wide March, the Roving Robot is Southward bound to four cities in Andhra Pradesh. The da Vinci will be showcased in Vishakhapatnam (Care Hospital Aug 18; Apollo Hospital Health City, Arilova, Aug 19; Pinnacle Hospital Health City, Arilova Aug 21-22), in Rajahmundry (GSL Medical College, Aug 26), Vijayawada (Prashanth Hospital Aug 28, Aayush Hospital Aug 29 and Ramesh Hospital Aug 30) and in Tirupati (SVIMS Sep 2-3).
Eminent surgical-oncologist Dr Jagdishwar Goud from Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospital will highlight the benefits of robotic surgery in an interactive session with surgeons from Vishkhapatnam and neighbouring towns on Aug 23.
Vattikuti Technologies and surgical robot maker Intuitive Surgical Inc., USA will offer hospitals the da Vinci robot along with instruments and maintenance required for the next three years at a special price point.
Currently, Andhra Pradesh has surgical robots at Apollo Hospital, Asian Institute of Nephrology & Urology, Basavatarakam Indo American Hospital, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences and Yashoda Hospital in Hyderabad and Vizag Hospital and Cancer Institute in Vishakhapatnam.
Part of the Foundation’s mission is also to offer 100 paid fellowships to super specialist surgeons, over the next five years, so they can become robotic surgeons. In this, they are making good progress. Vattikuti Foundation also organizes Robotic Surgeons conference every six months.
At the recent Robotic Surgeons’ conferences hosted by the Foundation, over 100-125 robotic surgeons participated and shared their experience and techniques with others to encourage further appropriate use of this form of surgery.