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The Department of Paediatric Robotic Surgery is a part of both Paediatric Urology and Paediatric Surgery. This pioneering Department has been instrumental in exploring the use of robotics for surgery in children. Since August 2012, more than 110 surgeries have been done using the Da Vinci Robot at Apollo Hospitals Chennai. The youngest child who has undergone surgery using the robot was just 2 months old and 4 kgs in weight.

What is Robotic Surgery and how is it superior to laparoscopic surgery?

  • First of all, Robotic Surgery is modified laparoscopic surgery. Through three or four holes, instruments are introduced into the body and are manipulated to cut and stitch.
  • The instruments in Robotic Surgery have tiny tips which move, twist and turn like the human hand. Along with this, the robotic camera gives a three dimensional view of the internal organs in incredible detail. The depth of vision provided by the robot enables very delicate and precise surgery to be carried out with minimal morbidity. This means that only the diseased organ is dealt with and no disturbance is caused to the adjacent structures.
  • Unlike laparoscopic surgery, robotic movements are precise, ensuring that the procedure is completed in a very short time. The duration of anaesthesia is reduced and post-operative recovery is very quick. In most cases, oral feeding can be started within a few hours and the child is discharged within a day or two. Short hospitalisation ensures that working parents are not unduly affected.

What sort of surgeries can be done in children using robotic technology?

Almost any surgery can be done using robotic technology this includes Paediatric Urology (surgery on the kidneys, ureter, bladder and gonads), Paediatric Surgery which includes surgery on the gall bladder, liver, esophagus, stomach, small large intestine, spleen colon and Paediatric Thoracic Surgery which includes the esophagus, lungs and mediastinum.

What sort of expertise has Apollo Children's Hospital have in robotic surgery in children?

Apollo Children's Hospital is a pioneer in robotic surgery in children and has one of the largest experiences in the country. Currently over a hundred children have been successfully operated and the youngest to undergo surgery was two months of age and weighed 4 kgs.

Apollo hospitals Chennai has done more than 3000 robotic surgeries in adults and more are being done every day.

What sort of benefits can be obtained using robotics?

  • Less pain
  • Early feeding
  • Early movement
  • Early discharge
  • Very good cosmetics (small scars)

How expensive is robotic surgery in children?

The cost of any procedure using robotic technology is only marginally more than if performed by the conventional open technique.

Is this technology being used worldwide?

Robotic Surgery is the most preferred method of surgery in children worldwide. In the year 2015 6,25,000 surgical procedures were done worldwide using robotic technology.

Please reassure me Is the robot independently performing the surgery or is the surgeon in command?

The robotic is completely controlled by the surgeon who is the 'Master'. It is the surgeon who carries out the operation and the arms merely respond to his movements of the master controllers. The child is absolutely safe as the robot has no ability to move on its own. There are so many in-built safety mechanisms in the procedure to ensure safety.

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