Consultant Urologist shares robotic surgery knowhow with Lankan medical community

Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

“Robotic surgery is a precise tool that is important for removing cancerous organs without leaving any cancerous tissue behind,” says Dr. Chin Chong Min, Consultant Urologist in Oncology, Incontinence and Robotic Surgery of the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore. Dr Chin, who is also the Adjunct Associate Professor at The National University of Singapore, shared his expertise when he was in Colombo recently to address the Annual Scientific Sessions held in collaboration with the Sri Lanka College of Oncology and the Sri Lanka Association of Urological Surgeons. Explaining the outstanding benefits of robotic surgery as a safe, consistent and a cutting edge technological advancement, Dr. Chin confirms that the magnified 3 dimensional vision available in robotic surgery is also a unique innovation that allows the surgeon to ensure precision when taking out the cancerous growth. According to him, that precision and clear cut vision is vital in the removal of cancers such as prostrate cancer since the prostrate lies deep in the pelvis; in surgery, there tends to be accidental incisions made into the prostrate when detaching it from the urethra, resulting in portions of the cancer growth being left behind.  “In pathological terms, this is known as positive surgical margin. The implication of a positive surgical margin is that the patient is not cured totally and would require additional treatment such as radiation therapy in order to completely eradicate the cancer. Such additional treatment can cause side effects, result in costs going up and also cause tremendous mental stress,” adds Dr. Chin. Explaining the co-working relationship he has established with his Sri Lankan counterparts, Dr. Chin says that he shared with them the benefits of robotic surgery and how it has enhanced the surgical capabilities, offering fast recovery timing for patients, especially those travelling to Singapore for surgery. Entire operation is safe and sure “Robotic surgery ensures that the entire operation is safe and sure, with minimal complications and offers predictable outcomes. In addition, I also shared with my Sri Lankan colleagues the processes of how our pathologists report the specimens and the benchmark standards that they set.” Dr. Chin says that the number of cancer patients is on the rise all over the world – due to ageing and negative lifestyle changes. Sri Lanka is no different and as time goes on, we too will see a rise in cancer cases, burdening society and families. “Cancer treatment is always expensive – the best way to minimise costs and physical distress is to ensure that cancers are detected and treated early on. Unfortunately, most urological cancers do not respond well to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, especially bladder and kidney cancers, resulting in a need for surgery.” Dr. Chin reiterates that robotic surgery is growing globally, with more and more surgeons acquiring the skills needed to perform the surgery. Surgeons call this ‘pushing the boundary’ – when laparoscopic surgery first developed in the eighties, the same thing happened as more and more open surgeries were done using the method. “Ultimately, it is the patient who benefits most thanks to keyhole surgery techniques that reduces surgeon fatigue and enhances efficiency.” Although robotic surgery is costly to invest in, the outcomes are positive and more dependable than ever before. However, robotic surgery, as with other disciplines, also needs adequate training and support provided by an efficient team in order to achieve a successful outcome. “Many hospitals may not have the resources to invest in new technology and there may not be an adequate number of medical personnel entering such new areas of technology related fields. Based on your doctor’s advice and recommendations, you can always travel to locations such as Singapore which is considered a nerve centre for robotic surgery and other technologically advanced treatment, along with expertise and equipment. You do not have to travel to USA or Europe anymore, involving more time lost and more cost.” Dr. Chin is full of admiration for the Sri Lankan medical system here is efficient and the doctors are very committed and capable, ensuring that the first line of sickness management given to patients is both reliable and effective. “It is a seamless level of treatment that successfully allows the patient to extend the level of care he or she has obtained here in Sri Lanka, by going in for further treatment enhanced by cutting edge technology,” he says in conclusion.