There are still reservations about technology taking over and partially replacing human labor in medicine. At the Kufstein District Hospital (BKH), primary urology teacher Lorenz Holtl and his team have come to a very positive result after extensive practical experience: the surgical robot is in continuous use from Monday to Friday.
“The tool has 360-degree movement on the front, which we didn't have with the older tools,” Holtl said. This technology also provides 3D viewing and optical magnification as well as an additional working arm that surgeons can use. “The purpose, of course, is to make the process easier and better and improve the results.”
Robots should not replace humans
For example, during major surgery, half of the abdominal wall does not have to be cut. Only a few small cuts are necessary. The operating physician sits at the console and controls the robot, which is practically his outstretched arm. Extremely precise movements can be performed at up to 40x magnification.
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The surgical team follows every step on computer screens. Urologist Susan Sellmeier is now also working with the support of the robot. “I think it is very important that the robot supports us and that we can work more precisely with the robot, but it does not do anything on its own,” she said.
“I could never have imagined it.”
The use of robots reduces subsequent stress. In addition, patients' length of stay before discharge is reduced by approximately half. The hospital thus benefits from financial and staff savings. The greatest added value will be those affected themselves, as Sellmeyer regularly notes. “I'm really amazed at the overall condition, even right after the procedure.”
In some cases, the surgical team will perform a radical prostatectomy, that is, removal of the entire prostate, or partial removal of the kidney in the morning. In the early afternoon, for example, you encounter a patient with very little pain. “I never imagined this would be possible,” Selmayr said.
Surgical robots are also coming soon in Innsbruck and Hull
The district hospital is currently the only hospital in Tyrol that uses such a surgical robot. There have been several requests for this in advance. The Innsbruck Clinic and Hull State Hospital will each receive a device worth €1.8 million at the end of January. These should then be used soon.
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