Wesley surgeons break new ground in robotic surgery

01 March 2015

Since the hospital launched its robotics program in 2010, Wesley surgeons have performed more than 2350 robot-assisted procedures, including several robotic surgical “firsts” in Australia in urology and general surgery.

The Wesley currently has nine specialist surgeons using the da Vinci Surgical System with many more in training. More than 700 da Vinci procedures have been undertaken in the last 12 months. As the first hospital in Australia to invest in a second da Vinci Si robot in December 2013, the Wesley has consolidated its reputation as a centre of excellence in robotic surgery, particularly in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Prostatectomy is the most common procedure performed at the Wesley using the da Vinci surgical robot and minimally invasive robotic surgery has proved to be a safe alternative to open prostatectomy for removing the prostate.

Dr Prado said the hospital’s investment in a second robot was now providing Wesley specialists with the opportunity for further advances in a wider range of procedures beyond urology. In 2014 Wesley surgeons began exploring the potential to perform upper and lower gastrointestinal and gynaecological surgery. In June last year Wesley General Surgeon Dr David Cavallucci performed two “firsts” when he performed a liver resection for cancer and a massive hiatus hernia repair using the robot.

"We know urology patients are receiving benefits with the robot and we are hoping these benefits will also translate to general surgery"
- Dr David Cavallucci
Dr Cavallucci said the liver resection was performed on an 82-year-old patient, who under traditional open treatment would have had to stay twice as long in hospital. “We know urology patients are receiving benefits with the robot and we are hoping these benefits will also translate to general surgery,” he said.

“With more time, understanding and experience we can hope that robotic surgeries will offer shorter operation times, reduced hospital stays, less side effects and overall a better outcome for our patients.”

Wesley Colorectal Surgeon Dr Carina Chow said although it is still early days for general, colorectal and gynaecological robotic surgery, the robots have a lot to offer surgeons and their patients.

“The pelvis is a narrow and confined space with corners,” she said. “Current laparoscopic instruments are straight, but with a robot you have a better view and have instruments that can actually bend around corners, improving the access and allowing us to perform a better operation.

“We believe we are still to reach the full potential of robotic surgery in this field and once we have a better understanding of the foundations we will be able to push the boundaries further.”

The Wesley’s second robot is also providing a valuable resource for training, allowing surgeons to explore opportunities for new procedures. The Wesley is the first hospital in Australia to have dual console training, permitting surgeons to work side by side using the robot while they develop their surgical skills.

Read more about the Wesley's robotic and minimally invasive surgery.

Robotic surgery the Wesley

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