Going under the robot's knife
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Going under the robot's knife

Robotic surgeries will no longer be a thing of science fiction, as Dr Kalpana Nagpal of Indraprastha Apollo Hospital readies herself to conduct a Trans Oral Robotic Surgery in Delhi next week.

Going under the robot's knife

Imagine yourself docked to a robot station, while the doctor takes her place at the console a few feet away. Slowly and deftly the robotic arm takes control. No, this is not medical fiction! Dr Kalpana Nagpal, an ENT surgeon with Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, is all set to conduct a Trans Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) in Delhi next week. This is a first for the capital, she claims.

One of the few trained ENT robotic surgeons in India, she says TORS can revolutionise surgeries in the neck and head region and can prove particularly effective in treating snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea, tonsils — and even cancer. While giving City Spidey a walkthrough of the da Vinci Surgical System, as it is called, she enumerates its various advantages:



High precision: The arms of the da Vinci robot used in the surgery are equipped with 5 mm surgical tools, which provide extended reach to smaller areas. It also enjoys the 7 degrees of freedom, just like the human hand — and is, at times, even more precise than the surgeon's. The camera attached to the robot's arms provides real-time, three-dimensional HD footage to the surgeon handling the robot at the console. The surgery can also be constantly monitored by other doctors on a secondary screen inside the OT.

Faster healing: Since the surgical system is precise, extra incisions can be avoided, lowering the risk of cutting through extra tissue. The robotic process leaves little room for collateral damage, reducing the patient's total recovery time. Thus, it ensures a shorter stay at the hospital, lowering medical costs for the patient significantly.

Minimally invasive: The surgery requires the least number of external cuts or openings that can leave scars and marks. It also involves minimal bleeding. Thus, unlike normal surgeries, the robotic ones rarely require external blood supply.