Robotic Surgery

This innovative treatment uses state-of-the-art robotic technology to provide a minimally invasive approach to performing complex surgical procedures.
Robotic surgery is performed through small incisions similar to traditional laparoscopy whereby the abdomen is first insufflated with CO2 and then instrument ports placed. The instruments are held by robotic arms and are controlled by a surgeon operating from an ergonomically designed console in the same theatre. The surgeon controls the da Vinci® Surgical System through a magnified 3D high-definition vision system contained within the console.

Using this technology has several advantages to the surgeon, which include improved dexterity, greater range of wrist rotation, 3D magnification, no tremor and ultimately, greater precision. It allows the surgeon to perform complex operations with greater efficacy.

There are currently 5 da Vinci® Surgical Systems in use in South Africa, with 2 in the Western Cape. Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town had its da Vinci® ‘robot’ installed in 2014 and performs over 200 cases per year. Dr Shaun Smit is a fellowship-trained robotic surgeon who operates exclusively at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital using this system. Dr Steve Eppel has previously received robotic training and assists Dr Smit with all his cases. The partnership of these 2 experienced and fellowship-trained urological surgeons ensures that patients receive the best care.

Robotic surgery is well suited for surgery in the pelvis where space is confined and the numerous blood vessels and nerves around the bladder and prostate demand greater accuracy and precision. Robotic-assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP) for prostate cancer is the most common robotic operation performed worldwide. Other common urological operations using the da Vinci® Surgical System include: Robotic-assisted Radical Cystectomy (RARC), Robotic-assisted Partial Nephrectomy (RAPN) and Robotic-assisted Pyeloplasty.

Robotic surgery compared to open surgery, is much better tolerated by patients, is associated with significantly less blood loss and transfusions, less pain, shorter hospital stays and rapid return to normal activities. Recent studies comparing robotic surgery vs. open surgery for prostate cancer have demonstrated fewer complications, with less incontinence and improved erectile function. It is anticipated that longer studies will also show improved cancer control rates.

Please take the time to view the 2 informative video clips below. The first is a clip demonstrating the da Vinci® Surgical System. The second demonstrates the Robotic-assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP) operation.