Future of Robotic Surgery in India

Surgery has always been feared because of the post-operative pain, bleeding, infections in the wound and other long term problems. All these problems were reduced drastically with the advent of “Key-hole surgery” in early 90’s. It brought about a paradigm shift in the way surgery is done – instead of big cuts on the body through which surgeon’s hands are put inside to do the operation, now small cuts were made, a telescope with camera attached to it was inserted inside the body to give a picture on the TV monitor and tiny instruments were put inside to carry out the operation. While it was extremely beneficial to the patients in terms of less injury, less blood loss, less pain & quicker recovery, it had a few disadvantages too.

Instead of three dimensional vision when we see with our eyes, we now had two dimensional vision of inside on a TV monitor with loss of depth perception. We were not touching the tissues and the metal instruments we were using had no touch sense, so the touch dimension was also lost. Also, the instruments had limited range of motion, much less than a human hand, hence the range of manoeuvres possible inside was limited.

robotic surgeries in india

total robotic procedures performed in india

Advantages of Robotic Surgery

The robotic revolution brought us as close to open surgery as it can be. It reverted us the three dimensional vision and it provided us range of movement as good as the human hand. As a matter of fact, it went beyond the reach of human hand and allowed us to “access the inaccessible areas in the body”. Thus, it was a pleasant mix of benefits of open as well as key-hole surgery.

History of Robotic Surgery in India

The First robot came into India in 2001. But it was acquisition of a robot by the Urology Department at AIIMS, in 2006 which started the robotic surgery revolution in India. The Robotic Thoracic surgery program was also started at AIIMS, New Delhi in 2008 when Dr. Arvind Kumar performed the first Robotic Thymectomy in India on a patient of Myasthenia Gravis followed few days later by the same operation for a patient of Thymoma.

Thereafter, it started spreading across different specialities. As the technology is growing, the patient awareness plays a crucial role in it. Gradually with Time, patients are also getting aware about the latest da vinci robot and its advantages over the conventional surgery.

Rise in Robotic Procedures Performed in India

The number of Robotic procedures performed across the country in last few years has been steadily rising. In 2013 the total number of Robotic procedures performed were 2600, In 2014 it was 2800, whereas In 2015, over 4000 robotic procedures were performed in India.

Future of Robotic Surgery

It is clearly evident from the numbers itself that the Future of Robotic Surgery is very bright in India. Patients are very keen to take benefit of it as it help patients to recover faster. There are approximately 170 trained Robotic Surgeons to serve a population of over 1 billion. The number seems very little, but with time surgeons are getting trained.

In India the patient volume is very high with a wide spectrum of complex diseases. Robotic Surgery is best suited for a country like India and in coming years Robotic Surgery is going to be the standard of care for some complex procedures across all specialties.

Limiting Factor

The only factor preventing the robotic surgery from expanding across the country is its prohibitive cost – both initial Installation cost as well as recurring cost per procedure due to the disposable nature of the instruments. We are confident that as the years pass by and there is competition in the market, the price of robotic systems will follow the path taken by computers and cell phones and I have no hesitation to predict that in times to come, the robotic system will be as ubiquitous in the country as cell phones and computers, it is only a matter of time.

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