Robot assisted surgery: "You could be in New York and operate on a patient in Europe"


We've heard a lot in recent times about the advancements in technology across many sectors, but this December a new form of robotic assisted surgery will begin in Beacon Hospital in Dublin. The robot, called "Da Vinci", has been used on 3 million patients around the world, including hospitals here in Ireland. It has just arrived into Beacon, ahead of its launch in December, and I went out to take a closer look at the device in action. 

The device is made up of two parts; the surgeon's console and then the arms of the robot. Mr. Robert Flynn, consultant urologist at Beacon Hospital gave further insight into the make up of the device

"The surgeon looks through the eye piece of the console and sees a 3D image of what they are about to operate on, which is then magnified times 10. They can then control the robotic arms by placing their forefinger and thumb into the controller's hand-piece. The robotic arms are then in the patient."

This technology is designed to assist the surgeons, offering greater precision and reducing recovery time of the patient. What is remarkable about Da Vinci is that it enables doctors to operate on patients, regardless of their geographic location, as Mr. Flynn explained. 

"In theory they could be anywhere. You could be in New York, operating on a patient in Europe, and I've seen that happen. In reality, however, for the most part the console will be in the same room or same theatre complex as the arms."

While this is an incredible aid to any surgeon, it doesn't reduce the number of medical staff needed in an operating theatre.


Keyhole surgery was a leap forward from open surgery, but this is a massive leap from there again. Mr. Diarmuid O'Riordan, colorectal surgeon at Beacon explained how this will give surgeons far more freedom to move.

"The main areas it will benefit my field would be in the pelvis. At present we operate with fairly old fashioned instruments in keyhole surgery, in a very tight space. The better our equipment is and the more manoeuvrability it has the better it is for us. The Da Vinci is in a completely different league in terms of what we can do." 


When we receive a diagnosis, many of us today go straight to Google to read up on our conditions and to look up possible treatments. Michael Murphy is the Medical Director of Beacon Hospital and he says this is a good thing for both the patients and the doctors.  

"Patients are very well researched. They know what they want. People have, in the past, asked for the Da Vinci system. The difference with the Da Vinci really is in the post operative care. I feel like it's worth our while putting in the extra investment of time in theatre so that when the patient wakes up, they've had a minimally surgeon. They get out of bed quicker and return to natural activities much quicker. 

The Da Vinci Robot will be operational at Beacon Hospital this December. 

Jessica KElly, 

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