Robotic surgery set for huge global growth — report

Robotic surgery is set for dramatic global growth due to an increasing incidence of chronic diseases and the success of the minimally invasive technology in treating these, according to a new report.

In 2013 The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, became the first institution in South Africa to acquire a robotic surgical system and has to date performed about 1 800 robotic procedures, by far the majority of the country’s total number — mostly prostatectomies (removal of cancerous prostate glands).

Other robotically assisted operations at the hospital include partial and full nephrectomies (removal of cancerous kidneys) and cystectomies (removal of the bladder) with urinary reconstruction. The technology is set to be applied to gynaecological, pelvic floor, colo-rectal and hernia procedures in the future.

The robotics report by Global Market Insights, notes that increased suffering from chronic disease, coupled with growing patient preference for minimally invasive procedures to prevent post-operative trauma and complications, is driving demand for robotic surgery. A separate study says that by next year, 80% of radical prostatectomies in the US will be performed robotically.

A scientific review last year showed that robotic surgery provides better functional results than conventional procedures in the removal of cancerous prostate glands.

Urologist, Dr Hugo van der Merwe, said research shows that just over 23% of all South African men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, adding: “robotic surgery is dramatically helping improve the treatment of prostate cancer by reducing the side effects and lowering levels of incontinence and impotence significantly compared to open surgery.”

The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, is the only specialised hospital of its kind in the country, comprising 24 urologists, 11 of whom are trained in robotic surgery – the highest concentration of robotic surgeons in the country. The Hospital also houses the only robotic training facility in the country with three qualified robotic proctors available to train future robotic surgeons.

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