MakatiMed advances towards precise surgical care with Da Vinci Xi robotic system | Healthcare Asia Magazine
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Photo from Makati Medical Centre

MakatiMed advances towards precise surgical care with Da Vinci Xi robotic system

The tech allows for minimally invasive techniques in urology, hepatobiliary, cardiovascular, thoracic, obstetrics and gynaecology, and general surgery.

PAINTING on a canvas with timeless perfection would have been the first thing in mind with a robotic system named after Da Vinci. But at the Philippines’ Makati Medical Centre, Da Vinci is a name associated with precise surgical care.

Dr. Jaime Songco, chairman of the Department of Surgery, said MakatiMed’s adoption of the Da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System represents a significant enhancement to surgical capabilities in the premiere hospital at the heart of the country’s central business district.

“It enhances the capabilities of doctors in a way that we can offer minimally invasive surgery in a more precise way,” Songco said when interviewed by Healthcare Asia. “Why? Because you can see better with the Da Vinci system.”

The new system, which caters to fields such as urology, hepatobiliary, cardiovascular, thoracic cardiovascular, colorectal, OB-Gyne, ENT, and general surgery enables surgeons to make smaller incisions which reduces the risk of infection patients may experience whilst allowing for quicker healing time.

Moreover, Songco emphasised that the technology offers advanced three-dimensional visualisation and articulated instruments that mimic a surgeon’s hand movements but with greater dexterity.

“When you have this kind of technique, you expect less bleeding and trauma to the patients, and therefore less infection. Patients can go home faster, with a reduced need for pain control,” he noted.

“Additionally, surgeons themselves are ergonomically in a better situation as we are sitting down in a console away from the patient. These are the advantages I see basically for both the patient and the doctor,” he added.

Benefits outweigh costs

MakatiMed’s adoption of the surgical system has involved a significant amount of financial investment attributed to the high cost of purchase and ongoing consumable expenses.

“I think worldwide, the cost of the machine is about approximately $3m (P172m),” Songco told Healthcare Asia. Still, after overcoming the initial costs, the new system is expected to reduce longer-term expenses.

At the same time, he stressed that the precision and efficiency of robotic surgeries can lead to shorter hospital stays and less need for follow-up treatments, which could offset the upfront costs over time.

However, the robotic system does pose the challenge of ensuring that doctors across different specialities are able to use the new system effectively and efficiently.

To operate the Da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System, surgeons from MakatiMed have been undergoing training as part of the competency and certification process.

“We go through a rigorous pathway, from module training, examinations, and of course certification, and before getting certified, you go through a series of live animal laboratory surgeries,” Songco said.

Regarding the logistical aspects, the successful operation of robotic surgical systems entails specific infrastructure conditions.

Factors such as temperature, humidity, power stability, and internet supply must be monitored and controlled to ensure the system functions properly.

“While we’re starting it out, continuous monitoring by the Biomed engineers will be there to make sure the use of this machine in Makati Medical Centre is smooth,” Songco added.

Liver transplantation programme

With the surgical system in place, MakatiMed plans to move forward with several other projects, starting with a liver transplantation programme to be rolled out in this year’s second quarter.

“Our team of surgeons, nurses, anaesthesiologists, and support system have been going around Asia, to observe and look at the systems and processes involved,” Songco said.

He also reiterated that the required equipment and laboratory support for the programme have been procured and are available locally.

Asked about partnerships, he told Healthcare Asia that MakatiMed has an ongoing collaboration with Asan Medical Centre in South Korea, which maintains a high reputation in complex medical expertise such as cardiology, organ transplantation, and cancer treatment.

“There’s also a new group who’s been collaborating with us, the Apollo Group in India,” said Songco, citing its clinics renowned for integrating cutting-edge technology in establishing excellence centres for neurosciences, cardiology, emergency care, oncology and orthopaedics.

“We’re also in ties with the UCSF (University of California in San Francisco which operates medical centres) in the United States, where one of the robotic directors is a Filipino, who we’re also working closely with,” the MakatiMed chief surgeon added.

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