The future now: robotic surgery for Zambians



The global health care industry has experienced an escalation of innovations aimed at enhancing life expectancy, quality of life, diagnostic alternatives, treatment options, as well as the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the health care system. Granted, life-saving surgical procedures performed by a robot sounds fascinating and a little bit scary. Thankfully and due to developments in this medical field, this idea is no longer far-fetched, but a reality.

Robotic surgery technology holds a significant promise. It is a sign of a new revolution in the health industry, and one of the most talked about topics in surgical medicine today. Robotic surgery systems assist in surgical procedures which are particularly difficult, complicated or located in inoperable areas. This is performed by using specifically designed robotic arms.

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The robotic arms are controlled by a computer console operated by a surgeon using hand and foot controls similar to that of video games, offering more flexibility, greater accuracy and easier access to hard-to-reach areas as compared to traditional laparoscopic tools. Using small and hidden incisions, surgeons can remove complex tumours minimizing tissue damage, reducing hospitalization time and hastening recovery. This reduces the risk of damage to delicate nerves and tissues in the area.


Robotic surgery can be performed to treat numerous gynaecological conditions, including hysterectomy, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal fistulas and pelvic organ prolapse. The procedure and suturing operation can be done with greater accuracy. Depending on the procedure and the patient’s age, robotic surgery also may help improve reproductive health and safeguard the patient’s fertility.


In cancer surgery, the main application of this system is in the head and neck, trans-oral surgeries that include the tonsil and base tongue, urological surgeries (e.g. prostate), gynaecological such as hysterectomy (removal of uterus for benign and cancerous conditions), myomectomy (removal of fibroids), colorectal surgery and other pelvic surgeries.

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Robotic surgical systems offer immense assistance for patients who traditionally need thyroid surgery done by an incision in the lower part of the neck. With robotic surgery, it is now possible to operate without opening the neck and leaving no visible scar.


Dr. Umanath Nayak, Consultant Head & Neck and Robotic Surgeon, Apollo Cancer Hospitals, in Hyderabad India commented on the advantage of robotic surgery. He says that, “Robotic technology in surgery is here to stay as we can see many advantages with this technology as compared to older methods of surgery. It is a logical next step to laparoscopic surgery. It will reduce the need to do open surgery for gynaecological disorders”.

He adds that, “Robotic Surgery is a new category of minimally invasive surgery that combines the best of open and laparoscopic surgery. With the assistance of Robotic arms that are controlled by the surgeon of course, surgeons can perform surgeries through small incisions with unmatched precision and control. The technology causes less scarring due to precise movement, minimal blood loss, less post-operative pain and faster recovery”.


Robotic technology is currently not available in Zambia. Many Zambian patients suffering from head and neck, urological surgeries (e.g. prostate), gynaecological, colorectal surgery and other pelvic problems are often referred to Apollo Hospitals for advanced care.

Last year, the surgeons at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai and Hyderabad successfully performed a series of robotic thyroidectomise through the Trans-auxiliary route for both benign and malignant nodules of the thyroid gland. There is no doubt that Robotic surgery is an important tool in the surgical issues, with its impact now being felt even in developing countries.

Many other indications are still evolving as the superiority of this technique over open and laparoscopic surgery is being established. With time, robotic onco-surgery is expected to replace other conventional methods of cancer surgery and can be a real boon to patients suffering from cancer and many other related disorders. There may come a day in the near future when a surgeon sitting in the convenience of his office may be able operate on a patient at a distant location with the help of the robotic system!

About Apollo Hospitals

Apollo Hospitals Group is the first in the Asia Pacific to offer the robotic surgical system, which is a minimally invasive type of surgery. The Apollo Institutes of Robotic Surgery are committed to providing patients with exceptional clinical outcomes.


The institute has highly trained surgeons, a tender loving approach to care and the state of the art medical facilities that are all geared towards providing a superior patient experience. The state of the art operating theatres are equipped with the Da Vinci surgical system, the most advanced platform for minimally invasive surgery available today.


The four armed surgical robotic system is a breakthrough in surgical technology and it is offered across the specialities of Urology, Gynaecology, Cardiac, Gastrointestinal, Bariatric and Paediatrics. The Renaissance Robotic Technology is the only technology specifically designed for spine surgery.