Rare robotic surgery to remove cancer a first by docs in north

New Delhi: In a first by doctors in the northern region, a robotic procedure was used to remove a tumour from the large intestine to give a new lease of life to a 62-year-old city-based businessman.

A team of doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital recently performed the complex robotic surgery to remove the cancer from the lower rectum (lowest portion of large intestine) using the `da Vinci` robot.

"The unique position of the tumour led us to think about using the robot for this procedure. Our opinion was that as it gives us better vision and a lot of dexterity, the robot would allow us to perform the surgery where laparoscopic instruments cannot reach," said Dr KR Vasu, Consultant, Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant (SGLT).

Traditionally the operation would have been performed via a large incision to the body or, more recently, using the laparoscopic or keyhole approach.

But the tumour in this case was placed very low in the rectum, due to which an open surgery or laparoscopic approach would have given the patient a permanent colostomy bag to carry for life outside the body.

According to Dr Saumitra Rawat, Chairman and Head, SGLT, the use of a robot in the food passage has till now shown to be of advantage only for the oesophagus (food pipe).

"It is for the first time in northern India that it has been used in the lower part of large intestine, giving lots of advantage to the patient," he said.

The `da Vinci` system, in the market since 2000, is a four-armed robot that surgeons use with a computer system installed several feet away from the patient.

Benefits of the machine for patients include reduced bleeding, lesser pain and they are often sent home sooner than they would if it had been a conventional laparoscopic surgery or an operation involving large incisions.

The robot reduces complications, especially the chances of leakage of the anastomosis (joining of intestines), voiding (urine) problems and sexual function, Rawat said.

"For surgeons who control the robot sitting at a computer screen, these operations can be less tiring. Plus, robot hands don`t shake. These technical refinements translate into better surgical quality, resulting in benefit to the patient," Vasu said.