The first robot was a pale shadow of the present robot and was installed at Escorts Hearts Institute by the ever dynamic Dr Naresh Trehan. The year was 2001 and it was initially installed for cardiac surgery. From `Mars of India` was the caption we used for the first ever robotic surgery workshop in Asia.
The year was 2005 and the surgeon was a jolly young chap by the name of Vipul Patel who flew down from Florida, USA to demonstrate four live cases of robotic prostatectomy and two cases of robotic pyeloplasty. Such was his expertise that to this date, urologists remember it as one of the memorable seminars. It took another five years before the robot landed on the Indian soil, spurred by vattikuti foundation.
Indeed, the vattikuti foundation lead by Prof Mahendra Bhandari popularised Robotic Surgery in India. It is to their credit that in the next five years, 4,000 procedures were performed robotically by Indian surgeons using 3rd generation robots in 35 academic institutions.
Today, Robotic Surgery has proven to be of immense value particularly where the access is difficult by conventional techniques as in the case of deep pelvic surgery.
Presently, the robot is being routinely used in paediatric surgery, ENT, Thoracic & vascular surgery, abdominal surgery, gynaecology. But perhaps it is in urological procedures that the advent of robotic surgery has made the maximum impact. Better outcomes have been seen in patients who have undergone robotic radical prostatectomy and ureteric reimplantation. Robotic surgeries result in less blood loss.
The minimally invasive robotic approach is slowly becoming the standard of care for many surgical procedures.
In future, there might be a chance for the surgeon to programme the surgical procedure and simply supervise while the robot carries out the surgery. Already, advances are happening in robotic surgery in new tissue anastomosis procedures, improved robotic instruments and digitally integration of the existing robotic technologies in many disciplines of surgery.
Fusion of CT scan or MRI during surgery will help the surgeon to exactly identify the pathological area thus improving accuracy in removing abnormal tissue. Coupled with Artificial Intelligences, the scope of robotic surgery is phenomenal, indeed mind boggling.