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Emergency Room: Mumbai hospitals turn to robotic surgeries, but high costs a deterrent

A robotic surgery makes use of two electronic arms that are controlled through a console by a surgeon.

Written by Geetanjali Gurlhosur | Mumbai | Updated: June 2, 2016 2:25:19 am
Emergency Room, mumbai, mumbai news, mumbai hospitals, robotic surgeries, indian express mumbai Robotic surgical systems.

More hospitals in the city are opting for robotic surgical systems, with the increased precision and shorter hospital stays they offer making them popular among both surgeons and patients. A robotic surgery makes use of two electronic arms that are controlled through a console by a surgeon. The doctor can also view the patient’s inner organs magnified on a computer screen. The facility is increasingly being used for oncological, gynaecological, urological, colorectal, gastrointestinal, thoracic and bariatric surgeries, with close to half-a-dozen hospitals in Mumbai offering it.

Sunetra Purohit (60) was operated for uterine cancer in 2014 using a robot to remove her uterus and lymph nodes. She was discharged within five days of hospitalisation, as opposed to the 10 days required after an open surgery. Like her, Saroj Dagade (50), underwent the robotic procedure to remove her uterus in 2015 at Jaslok hospital.

“I had heard that this procedure would be less painful. I was able to start my house chores soon after the operation,” she said. At suburban Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, which was the first in the city to start robotic surgery and has performed over 1,000 so far, Dr Yogesh Kulkarni, surgical oncologist, said minimal invasion is the greatest benefit of this procedure. Patients who undergo a robotic surgery usually experience lesser pain, risk of infection, blood loss and scarring. Recovery is faster and the hospital stay is shorter. At HN Reliance Hospital, robotic surgery is being used mostly for oncology, urology and gynaecology for more than a year now.

At Jaslok Hospital, the technology was introduced in 2015. Dr Shailesh Raina, director of urology at the doctor, said, “It is less tiring. We can sit and operate through a computerised system and the inner parts can be viewed better on a monitor.”

He, however, added that a lot of training is required to learn the handling of robotic procedures. However, the high charges of the surgery remain a deterrent for many. At Lilavati and Fortis Hospital, the technology has not yet been installed due to its high cost. “It needs full-time invested doctors. Although they are precise, these robots cannot entirely replace humans,” said Dr Ajaykumar Pande, director of operations at Lilavati. A senior administrator at Fortis hospital said, “This only adds to the cost of the patients.”

According to Dr Prajesh Bhuta, a colorectal surgeon at Jaslok Hospital, if insurance companies help out with the cost, more patients will be able to avail the facility.

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