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Surgeon taps into robotics for higher accuracy at Thailand’s Bumrungrad International Hospital

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Dr Anusak Yiengpruksawan and Dr Verrapan Kuansongtham.

The Bumrungrad Inter-national Hospital in Thailand has adopted new technologies to deliver better performances in surgeries, including the delicate issues faced by patients with spine illnesses which is now being treated with robotics.

Dr Verapan Kuansong-tham, a neurosurgeon at the Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand and Dr Anusak Yiengpruksawan. a specialist in minimally invasive surgeryspoke to Khmer Times on the Hospital’s use of these advanced techs and how it is helping patients with spine illness.

Dr Verapan said that while the most common spine illness comes from wear and tear, prevention is one of the solutions to avoid the problem but in the end, the patients have to seek professional advice if the pain is persistent.

“For the serious cord pinching, which is very painful indeed, the solution will be to see the surgeon. In this stage of the illness, it is not like muscle pain that goes away with medication. It is the pain you can feel in your arms and legs, and a weakness of the limbs that can lead to paralysis if it is a result of spine problems.

“The best way to get away spine problems is prevention. That would lengthen the spine’s lifetime. To do that is to build muscle strengths and this can be done at any age with regular exercises. But a person should reduce repetitive injuries to the spine and there are many things we should avoid. For example, do not persist to travel on bumpyroads or carry heavy loads. It is the lifestyle that counts the most as the wrong moves will end up in affecting the spinal cord.

“If you have acute pain in the arms, legs and you feel acute numbness, then you should see the doctor immediately,” he said.

The doctor also spoke of minimally invasive surgery which is done at the hospital.

“It is the way of doing surgery with less injury to the surrounding tissues and by reducing injury to the muscles. This results in a better recovery for the patients. If you fix the spine and destroy a lot of muscles, there is an unfavourable outcome for the patient. And with the minimal invasive surgeries, the tissues and muscles are preserved while the problems are corrected with great accuracy.

“When I joined the hospital ten years ago, I brought the endoscopy technic. Constantly adopting new technologies, we brought in 2D X-rays and 3D scanners. This helped us in putting the screws into the bones by avoiding the nerves and the surroundings. Five years ago, we brought the navigation system which uses the computers and the monitors and that helped us a lot.

“Recently, we brought in the third generation of robots, and they provide us with more precision and planning before the surgical day itself. Robotic technology helps a lot when you have to put a lot of screws in patients,” the doctor said.

About the accuracy rate, Dr Verapan said the hospital has placed over 2,400 screws with the navigation system with only 0.1 percent missed.

“We realised that the screws were missing during the surgery itself and we fixed it. The aim of this technology is to carry out better surgeries so that when the patient gets up, there will be no screws missing.

“But I must emphasise that despite the robots and the navigational system, the doctors are the ones ensuring the success of the operations. We use our freehand and uses the navigation to see what is happening inside and from the monitor, we can understand the problems and fix it. In the end, it is the surgeon who does the operation, not the robots,” he said.

Dr Anusak Yiengpruk-sawan, a specialist in minimally invasive surgery, spoke about the use of robotics in surgeries.

“We have the DaVinci system and its use is part of the gradual development of the hospital’s technological advancement. It is an offshoot of laboscopic surgery and the robotic system is used to correct some of the disadvantages of previous systems.

“Now we get 3D images, we get the dexterity needed by the surgeons to work in a very comfortable manner with better outcomes for the patient.

“There is a lot of precision and a limitation of mistakes by the use of robotic surgery. The third generation of robots has evolved significantly with higher computerisation processes and you can integrate anything that is digital into the devices used. This makes complicated and difficult surgeries easier,” Dr Anusak told Khmer Times.

He said to a certain degree, Artificial Intelligence will play a bigger role in the future, but it will be difficult to rely entirely on this technology due to the sensitivity of the organs and of the body parts.

“We will need very powerful computers with a complicated algorithm to be able to get operations done by robots. With the modern technology, we feed the information to the robot and the robot analyses and we do the corrections and do surgeries by watching from the screen.

“Indeed, there will be more miniaturised robots, including the nanobots which is being used animals to destroy clots and so on but on humans, this might not be the case, not so soon,” he said.

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