Waterfall City Hospital Robotic Launch





New hope for prostate cancer sufferers.

Treatment for prostate cancer took a giant leap forward on 30 June 2014 when a procedure using advanced da Vinci robotic technology was performed at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital –  the first time this procedure was undertaken in Johannesburg. The robotic system used in the procedure enables surgeons to perform highly intricate, minimally invasive surgical procedures.

The state-of-the-art da Vinci Si technology, which will initially be used to perform surgery on prostate cancer patients, has been installed at the Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand and the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial  Hospital in Cape Town.

“This new technology is a major investment by Netcare in South African medicine and is driven by our commitment to continue creating an environment for specialists at our hospitals in which they can offer their patients treatment that has been proven internationally to enhance outcomes,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.

Urologist, Dr Marius Conradie, who is based at  Netcare Waterfall City Hospital and performed the  procedure, notes that this technology is internationally regarded as a huge step forward over the current surgical  gold standard for the treatment of localised prostate  cancer.

Studies have shown that, in the hands of a well-trained surgeon, da Vinci robotic surgery delivers consistently good outcomes for patients, compared to the more traditional forms of surgery for prostate cancer, and also results in fewer complications. It effectively means less chance of leaving any cancerous tissue behind, providing good cancer control.

“In addition, the technology ensures that the nerves that control erectile function are better preserved. The result is that patients experience a faster return to normal erectile function. Studies have also shown that patients have improved early outcomes from a urinary continence point of view,” explains Dr Conradie.

Urologist Dr Marius Conradie (above) at the new da Vinci robotic surgery technology that has been acquired by the Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Johannesburg. Dr Conradie is at the consol used to control the robot.

The technology offers a number of other advantages over both open and laparoscopic surgery. It is a much less invasive form of surgery than open surgery, resulting in a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery time, while patients experience reduced blood loss during surgery and reduced post- operative pain as smaller incisions are required. In addition, there is much less need for blood transfusion and a lower risk of wound infection.

The da Vinci technology provides the specialist with far superior three-dimensional, high definition visualisation than is possible with open or laparoscopic surgery. It allows the surgeon improved dexterity, a wider range of movements and a steadier ‘hand’ when performing the procedures.

Worldwide increase in robotic surgery The da Vinci system is powerful technology that is being  used in an increasing number of different procedures around the world. It has, however, mainly been used in the field of urology to perform prostatectomies to treat prostate cancer, a procedure that requires great surgical precision. Some 80% of prostatectomies in the United States are now being performed robotically, and the number of procedures completed with such technology is increasing significantly year-on-year throughout the world.

There are just under 2 900 da Vinci robotic systems installed in 54 countries and some 1,5 million procedures have been completed since the first system was introduced in 2008. Da Vinci is the only robotic surgical system to  have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the  United States.

 The da Vinci Si system consists of a surgeon’s console offering three- dimensional, high definition display and a patient side cart featuring robotic arms with wristed instruments, which are controlled by the surgeon and improve the natural motion of the human hand.

“The da Vinci Si system is not ’robotic’ in the sense that it performs surgery by itself. Rather, it is enabling- technology that is designed to assist the surgeon to perform more complex surgeries more accurately than was previously possible. Medical specialists who use it must therefore be accomplished surgeons who are trained in the technology. “Dr Conradie and six other South African urologists who have to date been trained locally, as well as in an accredited wet laboratory in the use of the system in Belgium, will perform prostatectomies at  Netcare Waterfall City and Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital,” says Du Plessis.

Some 4 000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Radical prostatectomy, which involves the removal of the prostate, is not necessary in all cases of prostate cancer. Indeed, each case differs and treatment will depend upon factors such as the type of cancer involved and how advanced the disease is. There is definitely still a place for all the treatment options available for prostate cancer in South Africa, including open surgery, laparoscopic surgery and brachytherapy.

However, there is little doubt that the robotic technology is a much-needed addition to the armoury in the fight against prostate cancer. Due to the many advantages that robotic surgery offers, it is the preferred option for prostatectomy internationally.

Waterfall Estate Issue 6 - 2014 16