Robots and doctors working side by side. Sounds like something out of the movies.
In reality, that is what is happening at Grace Hospital with the Da Vinci SI robotic system.
Associate professor of surgery Peter Gilling using the Da Vinci SI. Photos and video by Tracy Hardy.
The surgical robot allows surgeons to operation through a few small incisions using a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater then a human wrist.
This allows surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.
Grace Hospital is just one of two units – the other being in Christchurch – which utilises this system.
Associate professor of surgery Peter Gilling says this is the state of the art treatment for localised prostate cancer and there are only two places in the country you can have it done this way.
“They are like little micro-wrists, so it’s like having micro-wrist internally, so if you roll your own wrist then the instruments inside can have that extra function,” explains Peter.
“It allows you to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do with normal instruments.”
In some circumstances, Peter says in higher risk cases they will remove the lymph glands as well as the prostate.
“Then we come to the reconstruction where we join the urethra, or water tube, back onto the bladder.” Once the prostate is removed, it’s sent off for testing which will give doctors a better information in terms of predicting the outlook.
“The keyhole surgery advantage is a significant one for anyone in terms of recover,” says Peter.
One of Peter’s patients can attest to that.
After having his prostate removed on Monday last week, he was up and moving about the next day.
“I had a bit of discomfort but I was up and had a shower the day after the surgery,” says the patient.
“On the Tuesday, Peter said I could have gone home if I wished but I choose to stay another day, which is what they recommend.”
Aside from slight discomfort from the catheter, which has to be in for a week following the surgery, the recovery patient says there is no residual pain from the laparoscopic surgery.
“It felt like I had done an abdominal workout because they have to go through your abdominals to get to where they need to go. There was no sensation of anything else.
“In a nut shell if one was really worried about it, there is nothing to it really. I have a regular check every year and the blood tests alerted the doctors to something. I highly recommend men getting regular check-ups.”