Robots are changing the face of cancer treatment and helping save lives. This is the view of Dr Lance Coetzee, a renowned surgeon at the Urology Hospital Pretoria. He has just become the first urologist to complete 1 000 robotic surgeries in South Africa.
“As robotic technology evolves into smaller, sleeker machines, they can perform even more precise procedures, saving many more lives,” Coetzee explains.
Highly-trained, specialist urologists use a comprehensive approach in both medication and surgery to care for people with urological problems.
What exactly does he do?
In 2013, the Urology Hospital Pretoria became the first institution in Africa to acquire a surgical system.
Coetzee is one of a handful of South African proctor surgeons registered to train other Mzansi urologists in robotic surgery.
To date, Coetzee says that majority of his 1 000 surgeries include radical prostatectomies (removing a cancerous prostate) while some have been partial nephrectomies (partial kidney removal).
“Robotically-assisted surgery is minimally invasive and negates the tremendous morbidity of the large incision we would use for open surgery,” he said.
“Robotic surgery is here to stay and is growing in leaps and bounds. This technology allows for a much shorter recovery time. Patients no longer must be away from work for six weeks for a large abdominal operation. Using robotic surgery patients can be back at work in as little as 10 days.”
Coetzee says open prostate surgery recorded a post-operative potency rate of around 40%, while robotic surgery preserved this function in over 80% of patients.
He adds urinary incontinence from robotic surgery was below 2%, significantly lower than open surgery.
“We are now entering the 4th generation of robots that are smaller sleeker, more manoeuvrable and which will help continue to save more lives.