Training manager Mike Ghattas and co-director Dr Vanessa Kay at the Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation admire their new robotic surgery simulator which will be used for training.
Dundee hospital will lead the way for surgical robotics north of the border
Dundee is set to lead the country in training medics to use surgical robots to treat patients.
The Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation at Ninewells Hospital is developing Scotland’s first training programme for robotic-assisted surgery after taking delivery of a £1.7 million da Vinci Xi robot.
The robot has four thin arms that are inserted into a patient through strategically placed incisions no more than two centimetres long.
These are then manipulated by a surgeon using hand and foot controls, allowing them to operate without the need for large incisions.
Surgical robots are used to carry out operations across four health boards in Scotland, but surgeons must travel to England or overseas to be trained in their use.
The installation of the da Vinci Xi robot at DIHS – a medical education centre formed by Dundee University, NHS Tayside and industry partners Medtronic – is the first step towards a full robotic training centre being established north of the border.
Dundee University and NHS Tayside staff were given a first experience of robotics training yesterday when operators showcased the da Vinci’s full range of abilities in a simulated setting.
The robot will be used to train surgeons and theatre staff across disciplines including urology, gynaecology, ENT and general surgery.
A range of courses from basic robotic skills to advanced masterclasses will be available at DIHS. Training will also be given to surgeons alongside the conventional components of existing medical courses.
DIHS co-director Dr Vanessa Kay predicted robotics will transform the surgical process in a similar way to keyhole surgery, pioneered in Dundee by Sir Alfred Cuschieri.
She said: “No one was doing laparoscopic surgery when Sir Alfred pioneered its use and clinical
Robotics can lead to better outcomes
implementation but now 70% of all surgery is minimally invasive.
“Soon we will start to see robotic surgery taking on more and more of the procedures currently done as a result of Sir Alfred’s work.”
She said: “Evidence has shown that robotics can lead to better outcomes, reduced length of hospital stays, reduced amounts of blood lost during surgery and improved accuracy of technique. As such, it is vital that Scotland is at the forefront of robotics training and implementation.”
There could be no better place than Ninewells Hospital for Scotland’s first training programme for robotically-assisted surgery.
For it was in that self-same institution in the mid 1970s that Dr Alfred Cuschieri began his pioneering work in the field of minimal access surgery.
It is estimated that up to 70% of surgical procedures are now performed in this way.
Millions of patients across the globe have Dr Cuschieri and his team to thank for advances that made potentially dangerous procedures routine and significantly improved post-operative recovery rates.
More than 40 years on and developments in robotics technology mean machines are being used to enhance the surgical toolkit.
The capacity to carry out intricate tasks within incredible tolerances is vital to ensure positive outcomes for patients.
The new £1.7 million da Vinci Xi Robot which has been installed at the Dundee Institute for Healthcare Simulation at Ninewells is a real step forward for healthcare in Scotland.
It will allow a new generation of surgeons to learn their craft here for the first time.
And as they do so, they will be standing on the shoulders of a giant whose contribution to healthcare is impossible to overstate.
DIHS co-director Dr Vanessa Kay with the surgical robot.