Colombia on Friday became the first Latin American country to use robotic science in a pediatric operation.
Surgeons in Bogota‘s Marly Clinic operated on a two-year-old boy to remove a malformation located in the urethra behind the bladder and repair the urinary tract.
“This was the first such surgery performed in Latin America,” Dr. Manuel Rueda of the clinic told Colombia Reports.
The team of doctors was led by Pablo Gomez, Director of Pediatric Robotic Urology at the Florida Hospital for Children, who is one of the few surgeons trained to use the machine in pediatric surgery. Dr. Gomez said that the operation put Colombia “in the forefront of robotic science in Latin America.”
The amazing robotic system minimizes edge incisions and reduces recovery time to as little as one day. (The robot is so precise, it can peel a grape as shown in the YouTube clip below.)
“It is a very different set of skills and only a few of us worldwide are trained in operating on kids, 99% of operations are still done using open techniques. In the U.S. there are only one or two elite programs training doctors to do this kind of operation. That means there are only 25 graduates a year,” Dr. Gomez told Colombia Reports.
“The fact that Colombia has made such a huge investment is very important,” said the surgeon who is part of a joint venture with the Walt Disney Pavillion at the Florida Hospital for Children and Universidad de Los Andes offering training and support to Colombian doctors.
“We have a tight relationship… We had lots of meetings while we were there with the goal of coming up with a program. We had so many ideas we are now planning a new meeting with the agenda of narrowing them down,” said Dr. Gomez.
Around 2,000 machines have been sold worldwide with most of these in the U.S., according to the doctor. South America so far has only four or five. The machine itself costs around $1.3 million and the upkeep is around $150,000 a year, making it too expensive for many hospitals to invest in.
There are many advantages to robotic-assisted surgery according to Dr. Gomez including faster recovery time, reduced blood loss and less pain. This, according to the doctor will make this type of surgery more attractive to patients and parents.
“We are hoping for Colombia to become a hub for this type of surgery, like it is for plastic surgery and fertility operations like reverse vasectomy,” said Dr Gomez.
- Interview with Dr. Manuel Rueda
- Interview with Dr. Pablo Gomez
- Colombia: First in Robotic Science in Latin America (Prensa Latina)
- Bogotá realizó la primera cirugía robótica a un menor en Latinoamérica (El Nacional)