Dr Surender Kumar Dabas
In the realm of cancer treatment, the advent of robotic surgery has marked a significant paradigm shift. Robotic surgery is employed in the treatment of various cancers, including head & neck, lung, colorectal, prostate, and gynaecological (uterine, ovarian, cervical) cancers. Traditional open surgery and laparoscopic surgery, while effective in their own right, are increasingly being overshadowed by the precision and advantages offered by robotic surgery.
Enhanced Visualisation and Precision
Robotic surgery leverages advanced imaging technology that provides surgeons with a three-dimensional, high-definition view of the surgical site. This level of visualisation surpasses what is possible in open or laparoscopic procedures. Surgeons control robotic instruments with remarkable precision, aided by magnified images and a steady robotic hand. This translates into more accurate tumour removal and the preservation of healthy tissues, a critical consideration in cancer surgeries.
Minimally Invasive Approach
While open surgery typically involves a large incision, robotic surgery uses small incisions through which robotic arms equipped with surgical instruments are inserted. This minimally invasive approach reduces trauma to surrounding tissues, lessens blood loss, and leads to quicker postoperative recovery. In comparison, laparoscopic surgery, although less invasive than open surgery, may involve limitations in instrument movement and control, making robotic surgery a superior option for intricate procedures.
Increased Range of Motion and Dexterity
Robotic surgical systems are designed with instruments that mimic the range of motion and dexterity of the human hand but with enhanced precision and steadiness. Surgeons can manipulate these instruments in ways that exceed the capabilities of traditional laparoscopic tools, allowing for intricate tasks like suturing and delicate tissue dissection, which are often required in cancer surgeries.
Reduced Fatigue and Tremors
One of the limitations of laparoscopic surgery is surgeon fatigue and the potential for hand tremors over the course of long procedures. Robotic surgery mitigates these issues by eliminating the direct interface between the surgeon’s hand and the instruments. The surgeon’s movements are translated into precise actions by the robotic system, eliminating tremors and reducing fatigue. This ensures consistent surgical quality, which is vital in cancer treatment.
Smaller Incisions and Better Cosmesis
Robotic surgery results in smaller incisions compared to open surgery, which often involves large cuts. Smaller incisions not only reduce the risk of infection but also improve the cosmetic outcome. Patients undergoing robotic surgery often experience less scarring and a more aesthetically pleasing result.
Faster Recovery and Shorter Hospital Stays
Due to the minimally invasive nature and the reduced trauma to the body, patients typically experience faster postoperative recovery and shorter hospital stays compared to open surgery. This means less disruption to the patient’s life and a quicker return to normal activities.
The precision and minimally invasive approach of robot-assisted surgery makes it a versatile tool in the fight against cancer.
(The author is Vice Chairman – Oncology, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi)