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Máxima Medical Centre (MMC) surgeons have been operating with a robotic arm since this week. This surgical tool combines the precision benefits of robotic surgery with the speed of a traditional keyhole surgery. Until recently, the application was only used in hospitals outside Europe, the hospital says in a briefing.

The arm allows more precise and easier stitching in the abdominal and thoracic cavities. The technique is mainly used for gastrointestinal, liver and lung surgery, in which a relatively large amount has to be attached. The instrument is attached to the surgeon’s arm as an extension. The tip follows the surgeon’s hand and wrist movement. As a result, fewer shoulder movements are required and the operation becomes less stressful. Surgeon Wouter Leclercq has been following the developments of this technique in America for some time and says he is now the first to use it in the Netherlands. “This instrument increases our range of motion and makes more complex movements possible so that we can also operate in places in the body that have hitherto been difficult to reach. Because we can move with even more precision, the surrounding tissue is less damaged,” says Leclercq.

Robot arm or surgical robot
Nationally, MMC has a prominent role in the field of keyhole surgery, also called laparoscopy. The Surgery, Gynaecology and Urology departments work closely together in this area. Thanks to years of experience, almost all operations can be carried out via keyhole surgery. The advantages of keyhole surgery are great: there are fewer complications, the patient recovers faster and is hospitalised for a shorter period of time. A difficulty of this technique is the bonding in small spaces of the body. The wrist joints of an operator robot are the solution to this problem. However, the cost and time investment make it impossible to carry out every operation with an operator robot. This robotic arm offers an interim solution, says Leclercq: “By no means all interventions need to be carried out with a robot or robotic arm. For each intervention, we weigh up the different techniques; where possible with normal keyhole surgery, but sometimes we need a robotic arm.”

New surgical complex
In mid-October, MMC will start using a completely new surgical complex and centre for daycare at its Veldhoven site. There will be eight new state-of-the-art operating theatres with the latest medical equipment. Because the robotic arm does not require any modifications to the operating rooms, it can already be used in the run-up to the new complex.

Photo: Bram Saeys
Source: MMC press release