Monday, September 17, 2012

As vital surgical robot winds down, experts say funding for its replacement is critical

Independent MP Bob SuchIndependent MP Bob Such, who had his prostate removed during surgery using the machine, is to move a motion in Parliament seeking funding for a new machine. 

SA HEALTH must commit to funding a new high-tech surgical robot, or South Australians will lose an important cancer treatment option, experts warn.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital's $3 million da Vinci robot has performed more than 1500 complex precision surgeries - mostly prostatectomies for prostate cancer sufferers - and is nearing the end of its working life.

Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand president Dr Stephen Ruthven said the surgery was an important prostate cancer treatment option.

"SA men and their treating surgeons should have access to all options," he said.

"The outcomes of robotic prostate surgery in South Australia will contribute to ongoing trials into the effectiveness of this treatment compared with open or laparoscopic surgery.

"For these reasons it would be disappointing to see the first robot in an Australian public hospital close."

Independent MP Bob Such, who had his prostate removed during surgery using the machine, will this week move a motion in parliament seeking funding for a new machine.

"Something like this should be available to anyone," Mr Such said.

Philanthropist Gordon Pickard donated the robot in 2004 - the only one in SA - after being one of the first men to have surgery to have his prostate removed by a da Vinci robot in Melbourne.

Urologist Dr Peter Sutherland, who has performed more than 1000 operations using the robot, said it could treat other cancers including gynaecological, head and neck cancers.

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