Da Vinci robot

Mexico hospitals turning to robots to perform surgery

The minimally invasive surgeries performed by robots are the future of surgical interventions, because of the advantages they offer in procedures and recovery costs, said Dr. José Manuel Mier Odriozola, a specialist in thoracic surgery.

“In a few years and I’m not talking about a hundred, I think in about 10 or 15 years, they will operate alone (the patient), because there will be more sophisticated software where you will load the surgical coordinates to the robot and it will only be able to perform the surgery,” said the doctor.

Last July 28, the specialist performed the first two chest surgeries using the Da Vinci robot to remove lung cancer in patients. This technology has been used in the world for seven or eight years, but in Mexico it is the first time it is used in this medical area.

“It is the most sophisticated system for minimally invasive surgery anywhere in the body, in this case in the chest,” he said.

The Da Vinci robot offers many benefits for both the patient, which reduces the risk of complications, and for the surgeon who has greater precision in their procedures.

“Using the robot, we have third dimension vision and in high definition; In addition we can approach our objective of work to millimeters of our eyes”, he detailed.

“The robot’s instrument clamps are far more accurate than the surgeon’s hand, which also causes the patient to lose less blood,” explained the coordinator of the lung cancer and chest tumors clinic.


The robot consists of four mechanical arms that are placed on top of the patient, one of them has a camera connected to the operating console, the other three put the surgical instruments, which are introduced to the person through three or four incisions of between eight and 12 millimeters.

With the use of this technology the recovery of patients decreases considerably, because on average, a patient operated with regular systems requires between seven and ten days of hospitalization and intensive therapy, in addition to blood transfusions and large quantity of analgesics and antibiotics .

The procedure of both surgeries lasted approximately three hours, similar time to the traditional interventions. Nevertheless, Mier Odriozola considers that with the perfection of the technique the duration of surgery will be reduced.

The surgeon said that in his field of action the Da Vinci robot could be implemented to remove all tumors of the chest, in the lungs, esophagus, trachea and thyroid, in addition they could operate ribs, diaphragm and all the organs inside the thorax.

These advances are important because of the health problems of the population, says the doctor. Mexico City with high pollution, is one of the countries that has more respiratory diseases, in 2013 10,500 people died of lung cancer in the country, according to data from the World Health Organization.

“Demographic projections for 2020 tell us about 14,000 deaths will occur,” said Mier Odriozola, deputy director of the Latin American Thoracic Association of the surgical area.

Throughout the country there are 10 Da Vinci robots: two in Monterrey, one in Guadalajara and seven in Mexico City and metropolitan area.

To be certified and use this technology surgeons have to be specialists in a medical field, and experts in minimally invasive surgery.

Then you have to train at least five months to learn how to use the robot; They start with simulators, such as flying pilots, then spend a week of training with doctors who already handle the technique and begin training with pigs and corpses.

A robot of this type costs 2.5 million dollars, however, the doctor believes that public and private institutions must invest in technology and training of personnel for the benefits it offers.

“As long as the same administrations, both public and private, realize the benefits of the robot, you will see that in the end this is cheap because you save on a lot of extra things,” he said.

Currently a surgery with this robot, costs in a private hospital of high specialty about $200,000 pesos, including all medical services, but in public hospitals a socioeconomic study is done and patients pay according to their possibilities.

Puerto Vallarta News

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