“AI TO MAKE REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE”

Dr Shalin Dubey, Senior Consultant: Department of Laproscopic, Robotics & Gastrointestinal Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals recently completed 50 cases of Robotic Herni Surgery. In an interview with Neha Wagle he shares about starting a new journey with new technology for better outcomes.

How does it feel to complete 50 cases of Robotic Hernia Surgery?
Over the past decade robots have transformed surgery. Robotic surgery builds upon laparoscopic surgery and in short it’s benefits could be summarised by a combination of changing the method of access and reducing the scale of the tools. I have done 28 robotic hernia surgeries till date and have been part of more than 50 robotic hernia cases in my hospital, Apollo Navi Mumbai. It is a great feeling of empowerment because with this technology of robotics the precision and vision it offers, I can assure my patients of a better outcome and no chances of conversion to open surgery. It is also a feeling of excitement because it is a very different method of treating patients. I strongly believe that robotics is going to make the minimal access surgery safer for the patients because the learning curve to do robotics is much less for any surgeon as compared to laparoscopic surgeries.

How do you see the level of acceptance of robotics in Indian healthcare?
As happens with anything which is new there is always some amount of suspicion and doubts about the safety of the technology and necessity of the technology in the medical fraternity. For patients there is always an element of doubt whether the surgery is safe for them or not and also sometimes they think that the robot is going to operate and not the surgeon himself or herself. But with more scientific evidence coming it has already become the gold standard of care for most urological procedures and also standard of care for colorectal cancer surgeries. I am sure that in coming times acceptance for robotic surgeries for diseases like hernia, rectal prolapse and others are going to be more and more.

What are the new inventions happening in robotic surgeries?
Currently, it is the third generation of robotic equipment which most of the tertiary care hospitals are using which makes the surgical procedure seamless. I am sure that with introduction of Artificial Intelligence in robotics it is going to make most of the surgeries very standardise which will ultimately benefit the patient’s because the outcomes will be similar whether the patient is getting surgery done in a tertiary care hospital or in some other Hospital setup.

Can you share what are the drawbacks of robotic surgery as per your personal experience?
I have not noticed any drawbacks while using robotics for my patients, the only initial issue was lack of tactile sensation but as with all learning process and training that was not a cause of concern. The precision, dexterity, range of movements, trimmer filteration and high definition 3D vision which the robotics offer makes the surgery very smooth and safe.

What do you have to say about AI in healthcare segment?
I strongly feel that AI is going to make a revolutionary change in diagnostics and also in fields of neurology and neurosurgery. Only time can tell that whether it will enable us to diagnose cancers early by following some sort of patterns or not, but yes it is a wonderful tool for healthcare.

Share with our readers what are your plans for the new journey with new technology for better outcome.
In our country the quality health-care is limited by the fact that it has to be paid by the individual for any medical or surgical treatment and robotics has one disadvantage of increased cost. I would be happy to see the cost effective robotics with new companies showing interest and investing in this technology.

It is just a matter of time that the robotics will become relatively cheaper for the masses to afford it. And when this happens I am sure it is going to make a revolutionary change in surgical outcomes. I see the robotics advancement something like that advancements in anaesthesia techniques. If one goes back in the time, they will remember anaesthesia was not very safe or pleasant just few years back but with rapid advancements in technology for monitoring and discoveries of new drugs anaesthesia has become very safe so as with robotics it is going to make surgery with minimal cuts very possible and it is going to make eventually surgery safe for heart patients. So I say ‘new technologies for better outcomes’ is not very far.