“It is very impressive what can be achieved with the help of a robot. Now I am convinced: This is the future.”
The robot is called the da Vinci Xi, and costs about €2 million ($2.4 million). It is not capable of action on its own, but can perhaps best be described as an extended arm of the surgeon – one capable of neutralizing any shaking or vibrations of the hands. The surgical system consists of three components: The surgeon’s console, a patient cart – where the instruments are installed – and a so-called vision cart, which contains the computer devices that control communications between the components.
“The first time I heard about operating-room robots like these, I thought they were just some technical gimmick,” says Dr. Mille. “Then I immersed myself in the topic and undertook several study visits. It is very impressive what can be achieved with the help of a robot. Now I am convinced: This is the future.”
Before using the robot for the first time on a patient, the surgeon underwent weeks of comprehensive preparation with multiple training courses and study visits. Using computer simulation, he learned how to move the robot’s arms correctly, then traveled to a special robotics training center in Belgium to use the da Vinci Xi for the first time on a model.
“Stepping up to the operating table and just starting, which you may know from before, doesn’t work here,” Dr. Mille explains. “You must learn systematically how to handle the technology and deal with the different way of operating, and then train intensively.” The surgical team that works with the medical robots also received special training.