The future of India’s healthcare system rests on two important pillars-the adoption of innovative products, techniques and technologies that can help enable better care and outcomes, and the leadership, vision and hard work of Indian surgeons and doctors. The growing significance, adoption and evolution of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in India is a testimony for the impact that innovation has had on improving patient outcomes.
Surgery itself has evolved, providing minimally invasive alternatives to the traditional, open surgical approach, which often involves one or more large incisions, and a lengthier recovery time compared to MIS methods. While laparoscopy created important new possibilities for MIS with the use small incisions, improved imaging tools and their application to refined procedures, the future of minimally invasive care rests in the hands of robotic-assisted surgery, and the enhanced capabilities and precision it can provide.
By embracing systems like da Vinci, surgeons have become part of a substantial breakthrough in the progress of science. The da Vinci system creates new possibilities by essentially putting a computer between the surgeon and the patient. It comes with four thin robotic arms with small, strategically placed incisions that are 1-2 cm long. One hand of the system grips the camera, the other three hands holds the instruments. Seated at a special console, a surgeon can easily operate. The system converts the movements of the surgeon’s fingers into precise movements of the surgical tools enabling a 3D high-definition visualisation of the anatomy, providing an enhanced view of the surgical area.
This surgical approach provides a minimally invasive alternative to laparoscopy-rather than holding a “straight stick” surgical laparoscopic instrument and camera while standing over the patient, surgeons are able to manipulate more agile, wristed surgical instruments and cameras through small incisions while seated at a nearby ergonomically designed console in the operating room. Taking laparoscopic surgery even further, robotic assisted surgical tools can rotate 360 degrees, providing more flexibility than the human wrist. As a result, robotic-assisted systems enhance precision and bring new levels of flexibility to surgeries. It has been rewarding to see how these new capabilities have transformed the lives of patients.
The first robotic-assisted procedure in India occurred in 2002 at a Delhi hospital, shortly after the first surgical robotic assisted system gained US FDA approval for general laparoscopic procedures, starting a new cycle of adoption and innovation for patient well-being.
Today, India’s growing pool of robotic-assisted surgeons are sharing advantages and outcomes of RAS, adding to the 7.2 million robotic assisted da Vinci surgical procedures have been performed worldwide to date.
Last year, the surgeon community held the inaugural meeting of India’s Chapter of the Clinical Robotics Surgery Association, India’s first robotic assisted surgery society, in August of 2019. More than 250 surgeons from across the country attended to meet with their peers from across the globe to share best practices, resources and discuss the latest advancements in their field. These efforts are resulting in wider acceptance and greater numbers of procedures with promising outcomes for patients.
Over the last couple of years since Intuitive initiated direct operations in India, we have seen an ever-increasing interest, both from highly trained, passionate surgeons and mission-oriented hospital CXO’s, to establish wide reaching robotic surgery programs. The experience of patients, getting back home and to their daily routine continues to bind our team as we pursue our charter of ‘Patients First. Always!’
The author is vice president & GM, Intuitive India