Tirupathi, Vijayawada, Aug 26: From cars to painting, from chess to waiting on tables, there is now no area of life and work that remains untouched by robotics and artificial intelligence. It's the same with medicine and surgery as well.
The da Vinci robot, made by US-based Intuitive Surgical Inc. brought precision and efficiency to surgical operations in 2000 even as it has cut risks by minimizing errors. But the da Vinci robot is no autonomous machine - a trained surgeon is in charge every second of the way, using the robot's dexterous arms to perform the operation to perfection.

Now surgeons in Vijayawada and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh can get to see how the da Vinci robot works when it arrives here as part of its country wide tour of India. Detroit-based Vattikuti Foundation which has been evangelising robotic surgery in India along with Vattikuti Technologies which distributes the robot and Intuitive Surgical are together taking the surgical robot around the country for surgeons, hospital managements and local doctors to get a touch and feel of the technology. The "roving robot" has been making its way to tier 2 cities of India mounted on a bus that is equipped like an operation theatre.

The da Vinci robot will be showcased in Vijayawada at Prashanth Hospital from Aug 28-30 and in Tirupati in early September 2017.

During the tour eminent surgeons will highlight the benefits of robotic surgery in interactive sessions, and also address any doubts and clarifications.

As Dr T Subramanyeshwar Rao, Medical Director & Chief Surgical Oncologist, Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad explains, "In the past few decades, surgery has been enriched by the expansion of use of Robotic assistance to overcome the difficulties and limitations of open and minimal access procedures. The distinct advantages of robotic assistance are high resolution 3D visuals with surgeon controlled rapid zoom and pan, 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 all surgeons."

Endorses Dr Mallikarjuna, Managing Director & Senior Urologist, Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology, Hyderabad, "Laparoscopic surgery is extremely difficult field to practice. To perfect it you need lot of training, mentorship and clinical practice. In spite of that to excel it needs lot of time and perseverance. Robot makes that learning curve easy, so that the expertise can come earlier. It literally means you can be better within a shorter time."

Surgical-oncologist Dr Jagdishwar Goud, who is clinical director at Hyderabad's Yashoda Hospital points out, "Robotic Surgery is the most futuristic form of precision surgery with advantage of being tremor free enabling senior Surgeons to do steady surgery."

When working with a da Vinci, the surgeon, a specialist not only in the use of the machine, but also in his or her own field of surgery, will sit at a console where there is a 3D and 10-fold magnified view of the interiors of the body. From here, the robotic arms are controlled and the right instrument sent in to remove or repair tissue. Because it is so precise, there is less chance of collateral damage. And because the cuts and incisions needed to send the robotic arms in are so tiny, the patient doesn't have to suffer the trauma of traditional open surgery. It means negligible blood loss, less pain, quick recovery and shorter hospital stay.

As Dr Goud says, "All these are especially useful in oesophageal cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, rectal cancer with minimal morbidity. da Vinci Robot also allows surgeons to perform thyroidectomy without scar in neck giving good cosmesis."

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.

Dr Rooma Sinha, UroGynecologist, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad, "It is without doubt that women benefit from keyhole surgery. There is less pain, less blood loss, fewer stitches allowing women and mothers to recover quickly and putting them back on their feet."

Says Dr Madhu Devarasetty, Surgical Oncologist, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, "Robotics is revolution in the field of surgery. We use this cutting edge technology to operate complex procedures like pancreatic surgeries. Especially in obese patients we see lesser conversion rate. Total control of system and lesser dependence on the assistants makes surgery more precise. In future there is every chance that robotics will be available everywhere."

Training Surgeons

Even as robotic surgery is acclaimed as the best in class method, there has been constraint in training of surgeons in this area. The roving robot project was conceived to address this need gap. Over the past six years, the Vattikuti Foundation has helped expand robotic surgery to 47 hospitals in 20 Indian cities, 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.

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, about a dozen fellows are already working with trained Robotic surgeons across different specialisations in the country.

Vattikuti Foundation also organises Robotic Surgeons conference every six months, with over 100-125 robotic surgeons participating and sharing their experience and techniques.

Currently, Andhra Pradesh has six surgical robots all concentrated in Hyderabad hospitals--Apollo Hospital, Asian Institute of Nephrology & Urology, Basavatarakam Indo American Hospital, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (Two Robots) and Yashoda Hospital. The aim is to expand the base. To make it affordable, Vattikuti Technologies and surgical robot maker Intuitive Surgical Inc., USA will offer hospitals the da Vinci robot along with instruments required for the next three years at a special price point.

Vattikuti Foundation Scholarships for Robotic Surgeons Meet Nov 17-19

The Vattikuti Foundation is offering Scholarships to current Residents and Fellows to further their careers in Robotic Surgery by attending the upcoming Robotic Surgeons Council meet from November 17-19, 2017.

The merit-based Scholarships will be granted to applicants within one year of their MBBS, MCH or DNB in a surgical speciality--Urology, Gynaecology, Thoracic, Oncologic Surgery or ENT to those applying to: scholar@vattikutifoundation.com by October 2, 2017.

(Posted on 26 August 2017, 1686060112 3O235O147O50)