Hospital in Kerala's Kochi sets record in robotic surgeries

A hospital in Kerala's Kochi city claims to have performed 60 robotic surgeries over a span of six months, an average of 10 surgeries with the help of robots, which, according to the hospital is a record for any hospital.

Aster Medcity in Kochi, which has the state's first hospital with a robotic surgery unit, carried out robotic surgeries in the areas of urology, gastro, gynaecology, obstetrics and oncology.

The hospital has a specialised Minimal Access Robotic Surgery (MARS) team.

"A robot's arm or camera reaches places in a human body where a doctor's eyes don't reach and get minute details. When he performs stitching on a person his hands my shiver but the same does not happen with a robot. These are the benefits of using a robot for a surgery," said Chief Medical Superintendent Narayanan Unni.

The CEO of Aster Medcity, Dr Harish Pillai, said the achievement was a small step towards making Kerala, the country's healthcare hub.

He said one milestone of doing 60 robotic surgeries in six months might probably be one small step and, in five years' time all hospitals in the state - both public hospitals and private hospitals - can expect to collectively make Kerala India's healthcare hub, Pillai added.

Robotic surgeries typically use a laparoscopic or "keyhole surgery" approach, in which tools and a tiny video camera are inserted into the body through one or two small incisions.

Touted as less invasive and more efficient, robotic surgery replaces a surgeon's hands with ultra-precise tools at the ends of mechanical arms, all operated by the surgeon from a console.

''Minimally invasive'' surgeries also offers significant advantages to patients over open surgery, allowing cancerous tissue to be removed with greater accuracy.

Robotics has made advances since it was first approved for gynecologic use nearly 10 years ago. Today's robotic-assisted surgeries no longer use three small incisions, as in ''conventional'' minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery, but only one. And, as doctors put it, ''We can tuck this incision under the belly button, out of sight.''