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How Robotics Took Over Surgeries Amid COVID- B-AIM PICK SELECTS

With no proper guidelines issued from the Indian Council of Medical Research amid COVID on elective surgeries, it created a lot of ambiguity among the healthcare fraternity. Not only it created a lack of clarity among hospitals but also enforced insecurity among patients. The doctors of Manipal Hospitals, Bangalore faced a similar challenge as they were under a lot of stress due to lack of proper instructions as to whether elective surgeries like cancer surgeries are going to be discontinued or not, amid the crisis.

“The mortality rate of COVID is just 0.5%, and that of untreated cancer is 30%; hence, we were under stress due to lack of proper guidelines in place,” said Dr Somashekhar, an oncologist at Manipal Hospitals. And thus, to overcome it, the hospital decided to opt for minimally invasive surgery with robotics.

Explaining further, Dr Somashekhar, the chairman & HOD surgical oncology, consultant surgical & gynec. onco & robotic surgeon, HIPEC super specialist said — earlier patients were apprehensive of getting treatment during the lockdown, and even other hospitals in the country were in a dilemma of whether to restart the elective procedures. As the pandemic evolved and the lockdown continued, the dilemma persisted, with no uniform guideline in place. Dr Somashekhar was approached by the Association of Surgeons of India to contribute knowledge and develop guidance of the required OT modifications for performing robotic surgeries. 

Traditionally, along with COVID treatments, Manipal Hospital was only able to perform one or two surgeries using open surgery treatment, “despite extending the work hours of the OT staff.” This, in turn, increased the number of pending operations as well as enhanced the patient’s risk of not getting timely treatment. And that’s why the hospital critically required the involvement of robotics surgery for carrying out the minimally invasive process in cancer treatment.

Technology Behind Manipal’s Robotic System

With an overhead design, da Vinci’s robotic system developed by Intuitive was the perfect choice for Manipal Hospital, as it not only comes with flexible configuration but also with upgradable architecture according to hospitals requirement. The robots are designed with a wide range of motion, maximum insertion depth and multi-quadrant access that allows for a variety of surgical approaches, including the complex ones like cancer.

Explaining the robotic system, vice-president & country GM at Intuitive India, Mandeep Singh Kumar stated that the robotic system comes with three network components — an ergonomics surgeon’s console, a patient-side cart with four robotic arms and a 3DHD vision system. The surgeon from his console can now perform the surgery without any sort of physical contact with the patient.

“The robot has been developed on a deep foundation of the physics of motion and materials, which allows the computerised system and the trained algorithms to fully imitate the hand motions of the surgeons,” said Singh. “The robot comes with a fully articulating joint that allows free movements even with the smallest of the instruments in a precise manner.” The advanced system has also been trained to control the hand movements on the robotic arm to omit out the natural tremors for more precise movements. 

The robot is further improved with the help of deep machine learning data collected from watching surgical videos. With the help of ML algorithms, the robot can improve its practices on controlling accuracy to submillimeter precision. It has also been trained with two grips in one grasper, which allows it to stay focused on the surgical area, instead of shifting its grasper according to the requirement. This, along with 70 degrees of wristed articulation, helps in omitting the need for instrument change which can, in turn, minimise the disruption in the operation process.

Analytics services

Additionally, the company has been leveraging data analysis combined with machine learning techniques to get a better understanding of the healthcare cost and value robotic systems can bring to the table. This helps the company to provide customised analytics to the hospital for understanding their overall project costs and savings. With the help of deep learning analysis, the data is used to improve the techniques and gain better outcomes with reduced complications, stated Singh.


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