Robot surgeon reduces HIV-infection risk in Beijing
By Wang Quan

2017-05-20 12:32 GMT+8

HIV is passed on through bodily fluids like blood, which can make it dangerous for surgeons to carry out operations on infected patients. To cope with this difficulty, The General Hospital of People’s Liberation Army (also known as Chinese PLA General Hospital) in Beijing has recently employed “a robot” in a surgery on an HIV-infected patient, CCTV reports.

The surgery was successfully performed thanks to the 'da Vinci System', an advanced robotic surgical system designed to facilitate complex surgical procedures using robotic arms and 3D console with minimal invasive approach. 

A surgeon is helping adjust robotic arms of da Vinci System. /VCG Photo

In the surgery, the HIV-infected patient had to go through a procedure removing tumors from the pancreas. If done with the traditional approach, the operation would require surgeons and nurses to have close direct contact with the patient, increasing the risk of medical staff being infected.

With da Vinci System, however, the surgeon could sit and operate by the console meters away, looking into the 3D high resolution camera, rotating the robotic arms inside the patient’s body and performing separation, cutting, electrocoagulation and seaming with relative ease. 

A surgeon is operating at the console. /VCG Photo

During the four-hour operation, the total blood loss was less than 100 milliliters, which also meant the patient's recovery time should be reduced compared to traditional surgical methods.

“Thanks to the technology, the risk of infection is nearly zero for the main operator and extremely low for our assistant surgeons and nurses”, said Liu Rong, director of the Research Center of Hepatobiliary Surgery Department. 

Liu Rong, a pioneer at the field of hepatobiliary surgery. / Photo 

In fact, it was Liu who introduced da Vinci System into China and performed the first robotic surgery back in 2011. 

In February this year, Liu’s team at Chinese PLA General Hospital  carried out its record-breaking 1000th operation, becoming the first center to complete over a thousand hepatobiliary surgeries with the da Vinci System internationally. 

Da Vinci System was first invented in 1999 by US firm Intuitive Surgical. The robotic surgical system was named after the great Italian artist for his contribution to the study of human anatomy. In US, 1.7 million patients received robotic surgery between 2007 and 2013.