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Saskatoon's new robotics-assisted surgery program will help 'improve surgical volumes,' SHA CEO says


On January 10th Mark Turcotte was diagnosed with prostate cancer – requiring surgery that would eventfully be performed with robotic assistance.

His October 24th surgery is one he would recommend, knowing he was in good hands.

“We had many discussions about the procedure I was going to pursue,” said Turcotte. “The results now are proving that it can be done very effectively”

Turcotte is now over 90 per cent recovered, with many of his scars healing. He is one of more than two dozen patients who have had surgery performed through the Surgical Robotics Program since September, which provides the province’s first robotic-assisted surgery.

“We've been at this now for several years to try to bring robotic surgery to St. Paul's Hospital,” said Dr.Varun Bathini Lead Surgical Robotics Program.

“When I found out that it was happening, I couldn't be happier.”

Compared to non-robotic assisted surgery, Dr. Bathini says robotics-assisted surgeries provide 3D visualizations. This allows surgeons the ability to manipulate instruments with a 360 motion as “this allows you to manipulate the tissues in much tighter spaces.”

From a patient's perspective, the procedures are less painful, according to information Dr. Bathini is being told by nurses.

According to Dr. Bathini, it would take 10 cases to train one urologist on the equipment. Currently, St.Paul’s Hospital has four urologist training to use the equipment.

“I would say probably around my fifth to sixth case, I already felt fairly comfortable.”

In a world where time is a factor and resources are limited robotic-assisted surgeries can help alleviate some stress put on the healthcare system.

On urological operations alone – Dr.Bathini says 100 beds a year could be saved using the robotic-assisted surgical system on prostatectomies as it provides a quicker recovery time.

“Definitely, this robotic program will also help us improve our surgical volumes in the province,” said Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Andrew Will. “Particularly because the recovery time is faster it allows us to free up beds that we need to recover other surgical patients.”

Will says with the establishment of the Surgical Robotics Program he hopes to see the full benefits of the program and then grow it over time.

Each da Vinci Surgical System costs approximately $2.5 million.

Dr. Bathini wants to see a robotically-assisted surgical system installed at Royal University Hospital, which he believes should also be expanded to centres in Regina and other parts of the province. Top Stories

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