US and India based, healthcare technology company, Vattikuti Technologies,is working with India based government cancer hospitals, corporate healthcare chains, and trusts to train 500 robotic surgeon in India by 2020.
The company, which is also the distributor of da Vinci robots, manufactured by US based Intuitive Surgical Inc, will conduct training and fellowship programs, and cover 100 hospitals by its set deadline.
“We will grow the pool of accomplished robotic surgeons to 500 besides motivating young surgeons to adopt robotic surgery,” said Raj Vattikuti, the founder of Vattikuti Technologies.
Raj Vattikuti is a US-based entrepreneur and philanthropist, and is also the Chairman of Vattikuti Foundation. He is is known to have seeded a string of enterprises, including Altimetrik, Covansys, Synova, Vattikuti Ventures, Vattikuti Technologies and Davinta Technologies. A s apart of the program, the Foundation will offer 100 paid fellowships to super specialist surgeons, over the next five years, to become robotic surgeons.
“Even though 4,000 robot-assisted surgeries were performed in 2015, representing a five-fold increase in five years, India has not even scratched its potential, as the benefit can be passed to the masses beyond metro locations,” adds the founder.
What is ‘da Vinci’?
The da Vinci robot was developed by the manufacturer Intuitive Surgical. It is FDA-approved for conducting soft-tissue surgeries like removing prostates, gallbladders and wombs, repairing heart valves, shrinking stomachs and transplanting organs.
The surgical robot has four arms that can reach organs and areas where human fingers cannot. The 3-D view, that can be magnified ten times (10X), helps the surgeons achieve better precision. The surgeon can remotely control the robot through a surgeon console that is placed a few feet away from the operating table. Surgeons tilt their head forward to view the 3D imagery, and connect their hands to the main interface to control the arms of the robot.
Furthermore, the robot is equipped with detachable instruments that can perform functions such as suturing, cutting, and clamping. The arms and instruments have movement advantages, like the endo-wrist movement, that bears an advantage over human hands and arms, being able to pivot completely and manoeuvre into smaller areas.
Minimally invasive surgery
When used ideally, the da Vinci robot provides multiple benefits to both doctors and patients. The tech company claims that a robotic surgery scores over any conventional surgery, as it minimizes blood loss, drastically reduces the post-operative recovery time, and brings precision in executing the procedure, thus saving healthy tissues from damage. The quick healing and lower pain-levels translate to shorter hospital stays and early return to work.
“Robotic surgery is all about better vision, precision and control, all designed to help a surgeon deliver better patient outcomes. This gives a surgeon superior visualization, allows meticulous dissection, precise suturing, traction and counter traction at all times,” says Dr Mahendra Bhandari, CEO, Vattikuti Foundation.
Also, da Vinci robot has the ability to filter out hand tremors, and can sense when it is about to bump into another instrument. Carbon dioxide is often pumped into the patient’s cavity during a laparoscopic surgery. This allows the doctor to see more clearly and there is more room to navigate the robotic arms. The carbon dioxide is easily absorbed by the patient’s body and exhaled.
“Robotic surgery is an extension of a laparoscopy surgery. The success rate of a robot-assisted surgery is the same as that of an open laparoscopic surgery. However the view that a surgeon gets using the 3-D camera of the robot, enables him/her to view the affected organs better,” says Dr Sanjay Gogoi, Director of Urology and Renal Transplant, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
“Also, a regular laparoscopy is a very tiring process and in a day, I can at the most handle just one more case. But a robotic surgery leaves us fresh and we can conduct up to five operations in a day.”
Training programs to be conducted in India soon
To expand the scope of robotic surgeries in India, Vattikuti Foundation has formulated a comprehensive plan addressing three critical components — surgeon training, geographic reach and complete packages, which benefit the economically weaker sections. Raj Vattikuti believes that adoption of robotic surgery by government hospitals will ensure treatment to people who can’t afford private healthcare but deserve the latest medical attention.
Currently, there are 190 robotic surgeons in India across 30 hospitals. So far, Vattikuti Foundation has been training surgeons for robotic surgeries in the US, Tokyo, Istanbul, Korea and Belgium. With the aim to expand the pool of trained surgeons in India, the foundation is planning to conduct a 2-day training program in Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Cochin (India) next month, which will be their first in India.