New robotic surgical technology unveiled in SA

South Africa’s first robotic surgery system was launched at The Urology Hospital on Wednesday, 2 October 2013, marking a new era in high tech health care.

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System is set to take surgery to the next level as it is ideal for both complex and delicate surgeries such as the removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy). The robotic system will be operational at the hospital in Pretoria from 21 October.

Speaking at the unveiling of the robot to the media, surgeons and health industry officials, Urologist Dr Lance Coetzee said that robotic surgery technology had grown to such an extent across the globe that in the US, around 83% of radical prostate surgery is now undertaken with this technology. In the UK, there were 36 such surgical robots.

“This is the type of state of the art technology that augments the work of surgeons and which can offer more precise surgery with much reduced morbidity. This new technology means a patient can now be back at work after two weeks, rather than six weeks,” he said.

Thomas Dunbar, MD of Earth Medical, part of the Litha Healthcare Group which distributes the da Vinci robotic technology in SA, said he expected other hospitals across the country would acquire this technology in the future.

He said the robotic technology would help take certain surgical procedures to new levels due to its advanced technology. He said the real-time diagnostic imaging capabilities would aid surgeons on multiple levels. “For example, if the surgeon needs an image while operating such as an MRI scan, they can plug an information source into the console which can aid them in real time. This technology and the platforms are already available in this robotic system which will be further developed and enhanced in future,” he added.

Dean Fossett, also from Earth Medical, said the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System could be used for various other procedures but would be commencing with urological surgery, in particular prostatectomies, at The Urology Hospital.

MD of The Urology Hospital, Sarel van der Walt, said the technology will result in less blood loss, less pain, shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to normal daily activities.

MC at the function and media personality, Derek Watts, announced that the robot would be called Umthombo, meaning everlasting fountain in Zulu.

For images of the robotic system, see here: http://www.intuitivesurgical.com/company/media/images/davinci_si_images.html

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