The US-based Intuitive Surgical makes surgical robots that facilitate minimally invasive surgeries with its da Vinci surgical systems. Days are not far off when surgical robots will become a normal feature in Indian hospitals for procedures like MRI scans, said a senior official of Intuitive Surgical Inc.
Jeroen M.M. van Heesewijk, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and Global Distribution, said, "In India we are in infancy in the technology adoption curve. Today a hospital without a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan machine is considered as a clinic."
Mahendra Bhandari, CEO, Vattikuti Foundation, said, "Offering robotic surgeries will also give a boost to the countries medical tourism sector."
Heesewijk and Bhandari were at Kochi to attend a two-day seminar on robotic surgery organized by Vattikuti Foundation. Heesewijk said, "India, China and Brazil are important markets for Intuitive Surgical."
Around 26 da Vinci systems are in operation in India at various hospitals. In India, Vattikuti Technologies is the sole distributor and van Heesewijk said, "We are not planning to go direct-selling directly to hospitals in India."
Van Heesewijk also welcomed the tie-up between Google Inc. and Johnson & Johnson to work in the field of surgical robotics. He said, "The fact that two global players with deep pockets getting into robotics is a clear indication that robotic surgery segment will get a big boost."
Bhandari said, "Presently, there are 147 surgeons trained in robotic surgeries in India. They do 300-400 robotic surgeries. Our target is to increase the surgeons trained in robotic surgeries to 300 by 2020. When the foundation was started in 2009-10 there were only five or six surgeons trained to carry out robotic surgeries."
On the advantages of robotic surgeries, Bhandari said, "The incision will be small and the loss of blood will be very minimal. The recovery of the patient is faster and the post-operative pain will also be less. Robotic procedures in India that cover a wide spectrum of procedures - cardiac, urology, general surgery, thoracic, gynecology, head and neck, vascular and pediatrics - are expected to cross the 6,000 procedures mark in 2015."