Robots cause less pain, leave patients in the pink

Robotic surgeries are performed with precision

Hernia is a common disease that afflicts the elderly. What is not common is to walk like a normal person within three days of surgery for hernia. But robotic surgery in the city is making even this possible.

R Padmanadhan, 69, was operated on Saturday with the help of a robot bought in March 2012 by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

On Monday, when he went home in a taxi, he walked for some distance and was able to stand on his own, not feeling like a patient who has been through a major surgery some days ago.

“I was feeling absolutely fine when I was discharged. The surgery was done with a small incision,” said Padmanadhan.

Surgery procedures have evolved over decades with technological advancement. Till the late 1980s, open surgery was performed in which the cut on the abdomen used to be of a few inches, straining a large number of tissues.

Then came laparoscopy, first performed in 1987 in France. Soon it came to India and helped reduce the trauma attached with surgery as incision became smaller.

“With robots, incisions have become further smaller. In laparoscopy, the movement of instruments is limited, but robotic instruments move the way human fingers move. As accuracy and precision are much higher, trauma caused to the patient is low, making recovery fast,” said Dr Tarun Mittal, who operated on  Padmanadhan.

“This reduces the possibility of catching post-operation infection,” said Dr Mittal.

However, better technology comes at a high cost. The hospital charges Rs 75,000 extra for robotic surgery. If a patient opts for a room shared among four patients, hernia operation costs Rs 45,000. A robotic surgery would cost Rs 1.20 lakh.

A technical hitch is the camera used in the robot. Laparoscopy has a camera that moves 360 degrees, giving wide vision to the surgeon. In the robot currently manufactured only by American company Da Vinci, the camera moves only 180 degrees.

“This is a limitation. Once there are more companies making the robot, the cost will come down due to competition. Technology will also improve giving us better cameras,” said Dr Mittal.

There are six robots in Delhi and NCR, which costs Rs 10 crore each. Medanta Medicity and Fortis Healthcare also have options for robotic surgery, while All India Institute of Medical Sciences has two robots to carry out surgeries at low cost.

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