Johannesburg’s robotic surgical centre reaches 500th procedure milestone

Netcare robotic surgery programme in SA proves a success

Tuesday, October 17 2017

In a significant local medical milestone, urologists accredited as robotic surgeons recently completed the 500th procedure using the da Vinci Si robotic surgical system at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, says: “It is thanks to the dedication and professionalism of the urologists who have been trained as robotic surgeons, as well as the support teams at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital, that this remarkable milestone of 500 procedures has been reached.

According to Du Plessis, the robotic technology has a variety of possible applications, however the great majority of the procedures performed at the facility have been prostatectomies, the surgical removal of the prostate gland, to treat localised prostate cancer.

“A number of other groundbreaking procedures have, however, also been performed at the hospital using the da Vinci system, some for the very first time in South Africa. These include the country’s first nephrectomy, the surgical removal of a kidney to treat cancer, and partial nephrectomy, an organ-preserving excision of a cancerous tumour from a kidney. Both of these procedures were completed in 2015 by teams under urologist Dr Marius Conradie.

“Both patients and doctors are increasingly seeing the value of robotic-assisted surgery, which enables an outstanding degree of surgical accuracy, and an increasing number of patients are being referred for robotic-assisted surgery, which, in addition to the Netcare Waterfall City hospital, is offered at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town and Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth.”

Study shows excellent results
According to urologist, Dr Gregory Boustead, who is one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of the Da Vinci robotic technology and consultant advisor in robotic surgery to Netcare hospitals, over 900 patients have been treated to date at the three Netcare robotic centres nationally.

Dr Boustead, who has assisted in training and proctoring most of the robotic surgeons in South Africa, says that a study published earlier this year on the outcomes of the first 500 robotic-assisted prostatectomies forming part of the Netcare programme, showed excellent results. “The outcomes compared most favourably with those achieved at the best robotic centres anywhere else in the world,” Dr Boustead observed.

The study found that the average hospital stay of the Netcare prostatectomy patient was two to three days, with very low complication rates and risk of blood loss requiring blood transfusion.

“We also compared our robotic outcomes to open surgery outcomes for prostatectomies over the same period. This showed that hospital stay and complication rates were almost halved by using the robotic approach.

“These outcomes and the milestone completion of 900 procedures as part of the Netcare programme to date, highlight both the success of the initiative and the growing demand in South Africa for this surgical approach,” he notes.  

Robotic surgery the recognised gold standard internationally
“Robotic surgery is internationally recognised as the gold standard for the surgical treatment of localised prostate cancer. It is extensively used in Europe and the United States, and is now also rapidly attaining this status in South Africa,” he says.

“There are a number of reasons why this technology is an increasingly popular option both locally and around the world.  

“The minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery is far less traumatic to the human body. In addition open surgery holds greater risk of complications and recovery is longer.

“The enhanced and magnified three-dimensional, high definition view of the area being operated on enables surgeons to achieve much greater surgical precision than is possible with traditional open surgery where the surgeon must rely purely on his or her own field of vision. This enables more accurate removal of cancerous tissue, and better preservation of surrounding nerves and tissue.”

“In a prostatectomy, the removal of the prostate gland, this is of key importance to ensure optimal preservation of the nerves which control urinary continence as well as erectile function,” concludes Dr Boustead.


Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
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