Advanced surgical robots have treated almost 300 Western Cape patients
Advanced surgical robots have treated almost 300 Western Cape patients. Photo: SABC

While the Western Cape’s two advanced surgery robots have only been in operation for a short time (acquired in October 2021), they have already demonstrated their value to surgeons at the province’s largest hospitals and the project may to be expanded. The Da Vinci Xi surgical systems have participated in 260 surgeries at Tygerberg and Groote Schuur Hospitals, thus lessening the burden on the Western Cape’s health professionals.

This figure was revealed by Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness Nomafrench Mbombo in a reply to DA parliamentary question. The Minister also revealed that the inclusion of robotics into the Department of Health and Wellness’ services has resulted in a 3-5 day reduction of hospitalisation time for many patients.

The Da Vinci robotic system uses advanced technologies such as 3D cameras (instead of 2D) to allow a single human operator to perform complex procedures with the utmost precision, and with minimal impact to the patient.

The fact that robotic surgery results in less tissue damage than traditional methods means that the recovery process is much less complicated. Not only is this beneficial for patients, who suffer less pain and possibility of complication, but it also reduces recovery time. This in turn frees up beds in provincial hospitals, which allows more patients to be treated.

Tygerberg Hospital Robotic First
Tygerberg Hospital’s ground-breaking first robotic-assisted operation. Photo: SABC

Gerrit Pretorius MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Health, says:

“The numbers coming out of the Western Cape’s Surgical Robot Programme are inspiring, and prove the soundness of the Department’s investment into these machines. This initiative represents the harnessing of technology to allow more of our people to receive treatment, and to recover more quickly and efficiently from surgery.

“Over the coming weeks, I will work with the Department to investigate the viability of expanding this project to more hospitals across the Western Cape, and bringing the innovation for which the Western Cape Government is known to all of our citizens.”