American surgeons perform liver transplant with the help of a robot for the first time

Robotic surgery has kicked down the doors of transplant operating rooms. A team at the University of Washington School of Medicine performed a robotic liver 'transplant’ last May. The intervention was a success in all respects. The use of Android allowed the medical team to perform a more precise and less invasive, cleaner intervention. As a result, a 60-year-old patient whose liver was destroyed by cancer and hepatitis C recovered quickly and better. The victim, according to American University, „is doing well and has already resumed his normal daily activities.”

Robotic surgery began at the turn of the century and was introduced for prostate cancer treatment in order to reduce the major side effects of conventional operations, such as urinary incontinence and the risk of erectile dysfunction. In the Basque Country, clinical urologists at the IMQ Zorrozaurre Hospital were the first to use it, although Osakidetza now has a 'da Vinci’ group in each territory, the device’s name in honor of the Italian Renaissance genius. The good results obtained enabled its expansion to other medical specialties, mainly oncology and gynecology.

The advantages of robotic surgery are that better treatment results can be achieved through minimal and precise incisions. The bottom line is that the patient experiences less pain and their recovery is faster. A 60-year-old man who underwent surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Missouri, a teaching hospital at Washington University School of Medicine, testifies to this.

Playing golf in a month

Liver transplant recipients require at least six weeks to walk without discomfort, requiring a more delicate intervention, highly qualified specialists. But the American patient, according to a statement released yesterday by his treating doctors, „was not only able to walk easily a month after surgery, but he was back to swimming and playing golf.”

„It was a success,” said surgeon Adele Khan, who performed the pioneering operation. „The operation went smoothly, the new liver began working immediately, and the patient recovered without surgical complications.” The Barnes-Yewish team of specialists is one of the elite in transplant surgery, but its robotic teams The best in the medical world.

Robotic surgery requires permanent control by an expert over the automaton. The machine is not programmed and left to do, which would be more common in science fiction, at least today. The doctor responsible for the intervention is put in control of the robot and operates from several meters away from the patient, using 'joystick’ type controls similar to those of a video game. And high-resolution camera equipment gives you three-dimensional images of the 'surgical site’ where you operate through a large monitor. Providing high-tech tools allows for precise and fine manipulations that cannot be done with traditional techniques.

With minimal incision

According to the information provided, surgeons made several incisions on the patient and a vertical, six-inch (15-centimeter), incision between the abdominal muscles to remove the diseased organ and place a new one inside the abdomen. That incision alone, with typical surgery, is 12 to 16 inches. In addition to a small incision, robotic surgery does not require cutting abdominal muscles, making recovery easier.

A South Korean team attempted the first robotic liver transplant in 2021, but with only partial success. A new organ, obtained from a living donor, was implanted with the help of 'Da Vinci’, but the diseased liver had to be removed laparoscopically.

The operation lasted eight hours.

The robotic liver transplant lasted eight hours, which is usually more or less the same as conventional ones. But the team that practiced it hopes to improve the time it takes for professionals to gain more skills and get used to the nuances of the new surgery. Robot-assisted surgery can be expected to become commonplace in a few years, but it won’t be easy.

Most liver transplants require more complex surgeries for a minimally invasive approach. „Diseased livers – doctors explain – are prone to excessive bleeding. Also, tiny blood vessels need to be meticulously sutured to connect the new organ to the patient’s circulatory system.”

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