The role of robotic surgery in cancer surgery has grown exponentially in the last decade. Many units across the globe have successfully adopted robotic surgery for colorectal cancers.
There are many advantages of robotic surgery in rectal cancers when compared to laparoscopic or even open surgery. Present-day robotic systems like the Da Vinci Xi (Which we use at the Nanavati Max hospital) offer unparalleled dexterity in narrow spaces like the pelvis. The male pelvis is notoriously narrow and often presents challenges in accessing the low rectum because of difficult angles in laparoscopic surgery. The robotic system has 7 degrees of motion which vastly enhances surgical dexterity.
The camera also provides up to 10x magnification which enables as do nerve-sparing surgeries more often and with better precision, thereby preserving the bladder in sexual functions better, especially in male patients. This is of great importance, especially since a lot of colorectal patients nowadays are in the younger age group.
The inbuilt ICG system in the Xi da Vinci also enables us to check the vascularity of the bowel before joining them which reduces the chances of leakage from the joint site.
One common apprehension among patients is - how can I let a robot operate on me? I always explain to the patients that finally it is the surgeon who is operating and the robot is nothing but an advanced technologically brilliant device whose every movement is controlled by the surgeon sitting at the console.
Robotic colorectal surgery definitely is a bit more expensive as compared to open or laparoscopic surgery but offers very clear advantages, especially for low rectal cancers. Recently robotic staplers are also available which enables the surgeon to have complete control while application of the staplers.
At the Nanavati Max institute of Cancer care, we routinely perform robotic colorectal surgeries with excellent results. Patients usually sit up and are walking around very comfortably the next day after surgery and we are usually able to send them home in 3 days' time.
Shorter hospital stay, significantly less pain and quicker return to work have some great advantages that robotic colorectal surgery provides.
With more and more such surgeries being performed and more companies providing this technology, it is only a matter of time before it becomes more and more affordable to all our patients.