Robotic technology used to treat prostate cancer

Two robotic surgeries were conducted at the Mediclinic Durbanville

Men’s Health Month got off to an impressive start at Mediclinic Durbanville where surgeons performed two ground-breaking robotic-aided prostate surgeries to remove cancerous tissue from two patients on Thursday June 2.

Dr Gawie Bruwer performed the first procedure in the morning, and Dr Pierre van Vollenhoven performed another in the afternoon.

The two urologists used a hi-tech Da Vinici surgical machine, which uses robotic technology to translate the surgeon’s hand movements into smaller, precise movements controlling tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. The minimally-invasive procedure, in which the surgeon is guided by a laparoscope – a thin tube with a tiny camera and light at the end – were broadcast live in the clinic’s conference room.

Dr Bruwer, who has overseen 90 of the robotic procedures since the machine was installed in September 2014 , said it could perform “nerve-sparing surgery, which enables a faster return of erectile function as well as a better chance for urinary continence”.

Lika Tolken, Durbanville Mediclinic spokeswoman, said Dr Bruwer had been monitoring the results of the surgeries and had kept a keen eye on the accurate diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Ms Tolken said the Da Vinci, which costs about R20 million, had mechanical wrists that mimicked the movements of a surgeon’s hands.

“The movement of the robot’s arms inside the patient’s body is a precise replica of what the surgeon does with (his or her) arms, but the movement is three times smaller on the inside.”

Doctors had a 3D view of the incision, while journalists and other doctors in the viewing room saw the operation in 2D.

There are only four other Da Vinci machines in the country: another one in the Western Cape, at the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital; two in Gauteng; and one in KwaZulu-Natal.

* During June and July, Pathcare is offering its male clients the opportunity to test their Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels at any one of their facilities in the province, at a reduced fee of R105 through a Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) project.