A robot guided by the skilled hand of a surgeon made medical history at the Netcare Umhlanga Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.
The surgical precision of the Da Vinci Si Robot, now in use in the province, may be the difference between life and death for some.
The robot, one of five in the country, went into action in a cool and neon lit operating theatre. It is precise enough to peel an onion.
Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, said the success of the robot in Johannesburg and Cape Town had laid the foundation for its deployment to Durban.
Du Plessis said the procedure was executed by renowned urologist, Dr Marius Conradie, who had performed numerous robotic-assisted surgical procedures.
Travelling from Johannesburg to collaborate with his peers, Conradie performed a prostatectomy – the surgical removal of the prostate gland, usually due to prostate cancer.
The patient, who preferred to remain anonymous, is recovering well and reportedly in good spirits.
According to the general manager of the hospital, Marc van Heerden, more patients have already been scheduled to undergo the same procedure with the assistance of the new robotic system.
The Da Vinci robotic technology was designed to assist surgeons in performing intricate procedures, such as a prostatectomy, with a much greater degree of accuracy and fewer side effects than can be achieved with traditional open or laparoscopic surgery.