Home >  News >  November, 2010

Prostate Removal Performed Entirely With Surgical and Anesthesia Robots

Canadian researchers say the technologies can improve surgical precision and safety.

Published: November 4, 2010

First there was da Vinci: The surgical robot that could remove vital organs with more precision than the human hand. Then came McSleepy: The anesthesia supercomputer that could sedate and monitor patients using advanced algorithms. Last month, these 2 surgical technologies joined forces for what's being dubbed the first all-robotic surgery, performed at Montreal General Hospital.

The procedure, a reportedly successful prostate removal performed on 68-year-old Gilles Lifort, was not entirely human-free. Urologist Armen Aprikian, MD, and Anesthesiologist Thomas Hemmerling, MD, were both present to direct the surgical robot and automated anesthesia system, respectively.

"The advantage of using these 2 robots together is that you can provide surgery and anesthesia with a higher degree of precision," says Dr. Hemmerling. While the da Vinci allows physicians to operate "with a precision that cannot be provided by humans alone," according to Dr. Aprikian, the anesthesia robot "guarantees the same high quality of care every time it is used, independent from the subjective level of expertise."

Mr. Lifort told reporters that he recalls waking from surgery "with no nausea" and a "sharp" mind.

Dr. Aprikian says McGill plans to continue testing the all-robotic approach on more patients undergoing different types of procedures. Meanwhile, Dr. Hemmerling notes that while the machines can enhance surgical safety, they're not going to put physicians out of business. "Robots will not replace doctors, but help them to perform to the highest standards."

Irene Tsikitas

More breaking news

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