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Machines on call

education Updated: May 23, 2012 12:45 IST

Hindustan Times
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The lowdown
We’ve seen how robots have changed world, streamlining and speeding up assembly line production of cars and manufacturing of other consumer goods. Operation theatres, too, have virtually been ‘invaded’ by robots. Robotic surgery is the most advanced form of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). It is typically performed through small (fingertip size) incisions. The surgery is done by a surgeon using a robotic surgical system called (among others) Da Vinci, which enables surgeons to be more precise, advancing their technique and enhancing their capability in performing complex surgeries. In short, the robot serves as an instrument for the surgeon. The Da Vinci System replicates the surgeon’s movements in real time. It can’t be programmed, nor can it make its own decisions to move in any way or perform any type of surgical manoeuvre without the surgeon’s control. Robotic Surgery utilises the most advanced technology allowing surgeons to perform complex surgical procedures that may not be feasible through laparoscopic/endoscopic procedures

Clockwork
5am: Do yoga and meditation
6am: Breakfast
7am to 1pm: Work begins; Morning Surgeries (can extend depending on the number of surgeries)
1pm to 2pm: Lunch,discuss cases
2pm to 5pm: OPD schedules (might extend depending on the appointments)
5pm to 7pm: Consultations, site visits, telecons
7pm to 9pm: spending time with family, clubbing or reading up on latest medical updates
9pm: Dinner

The payoff
Robotic surgery is definitely a lucrative field. In government institutes like AIIMS, a senior surgeon earns somewhere around Rs. 1 lakh per month. In case of private institutions, the sky is the limit depending on experience

Skills/TRAITS
* Dedication, commitment and practice is what it takes to learn this advanced procedure
* Skill set is important but mental attitude is very important
* Experienced surgeons who have mastered conventional surgery are the best candidates for learning to use robots because they have the skills and confidence to get themselves out of difficult situations that may arise. India has a pool of such surgeons and once they are trained in robotics, it will be the most preferred choice of patients looking for the most advanced minimally invasive options

Getting there
After completion of MBBS, one needs to complete masters in surgery and should develop proficiency in open surgery. Then, he can go for training in robotic surgery.

Today, robotic surgery is not considered experimental, since robotic surgery has been practiced for the last 12 years. Slow adoption in India has primarily been due to lack of professional talent and mentorship in robotic surgery. However, the trend is picking up with both, doctors and the pateints as well

Institutes and URLs
* International College of Robotic Surgery (ICRS), Atlanta
http://revasc.icrstraining.org/
* World Laparoscopy Hospital, Gurgaon
http://www.worldlaparoscopyhospital.com/
* The International Centre for robotic surgery at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute
http://indiaroboticsurgery.com/index1.php

Pros and cons
* Robotic Surgery utilises the most advanced technology allowing surgeons to perform complex surgical procedures that may not be feasible through endoscopic or laparoscopic procedures. However, not a lot of patients are comfortable with the idea. Convicing them can be difficult, at times
* Long work hours
* As you are responsible for the well-being of the patient, the stress levels are generally high
* Often, you gain friends in patients
* Continuous updation of skills is required, because if you want to be a perfectionist you need to be proficient with machines as well as with the patients
* A very respected profession
* You save lives and ease the suffering of people – could anything be more satisfying?
* The money is very good as compared to other fields
* Your family life may suffer

Experienced surgeons who have mastered conventional surgery are the best candidates for robotic surgery because they have the skills to get themselves out of difficult situations that may arise Dr Sudhir Srivastava, chairman, CEO and managing director International Centre for Robotic Surgery, New Delhi, India