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Surgeries surge ahead with Townsville robotic system

The Da Vinci robotic system at Mater Private Hospital Townsville has performed its 100th operation—more than five months ahead of schedule.

The $3.3 million robot, a joint investment by Mater Private Hospital Townsville and Townsville University Hospital, achieved its surgical century with a successful prostatectomy on a cancer patient from Mackay performed at the end of October.

Mater surgeon and Townsville University Hospital director of urogynaecology Professor Ajay Rane said the robot, which was commissioned in March, had been expected to take a year to reach the 100-operation milestone.

Professor Rane said Townsville surgeons eager to utilise the technology had criss-crossed the country and spent time in hotel quarantine to each undergo more than 100 hours of simulated training on the system at facilities in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Ten surgeons are now qualified to operate the Townsville system, with another six still in training.
“We never expected to perform our first 100 Da Vinci surgeries so quickly,” Professor Rane said.

“It’s a testament to the drive of Mater, collaboration with Townsville University Hospital and the sheer talent and commitment of our surgeons.”

The Da Vinci system allows surgeons to perform high-precision and minimally invasive surgeries with the use of a 3D camera and console-operated instruments, ensuring procedures are safer, have better outcomes and deliver faster recovery times for patients.

Professor Rane said women undergoing hysterectomies with the Da Vinci system at Mater Private Hospital Townsville could now be discharged the next day, compared to a four to five-night stay with conventional surgery.

Townsville’s Da Vinci-trained specialists include gynaecologists, urologists, urogynaecologists and colorectal specialists, as well as their respective theatre nursing teams. The next stage of the implementation of the Da Vinci program will involve local training of junior doctors.

The most common operations performed include hysterectomies, pelvic reconstructions and surgery for bowel and prostate cancers.

Mater Private Hospital Townsville Executive Officer Libbie Linley said the hospital was becoming a major centre for robotic-assisted surgery, following the recent additions of a Stryker Mako robot and the ROSA Knee System to enhance orthopaedic care.

“Mater’s investment in technology is ensuring that North Queensland patients can receive the very best medical treatment in their own community, instead of having to travel to Brisbane,” Ms Linley said.

“We can also perform more complex procedures and offer outstanding training opportunities to North Queensland doctors.

“The public-private model of care we have introduced for the Da Vinci system is delivering huge benefits for the region more quickly than we ever imagined.”

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes said the Da Vinci system delivered state-of-the-art medical care for North Queenslanders.

‘‘We are committed to working with our partners to deliver innovative healthcare solutions that provide regional patients with access to world-class technology,’’ Mr Keyes said.

‘‘It’s great to see so many patients benefiting from this partnership and receiving complex care closer to their family, home and support network.’’

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