Epworth Geelong is celebrating the 20th anniversary of robotic surgery in Australia.

Epworth HealthCare was the first hospital group in the Asia Pacific region to introduce robotic assisted surgery in 2003, at Epworth Richmond.

The first surgical robot at Epworth Geelong was installed in 2018.

Professor Glenn Guest oversees surgical training at Epworth Geelong.

Prof Guest said robotic surgery doesn’t mean a surgeon is no longer required.

“Robotic surgery uses intelligent equipment, which combines sophisticated computer programming with great engineering, to give surgeons a better view and greater control of surgical instruments inside the patient,” Prof Guest said.

“Robotic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery that means smaller incisions and less pain for patients, so many can leave hospital sooner.”

Professor Guest supervises surgical training at Epworth Geelong. He said one of the many advantages of robots are the role they play in training new surgeons.

“Traditionally, a doctor would learn surgery by watching a mentor, who is a senior surgeon performing the operation. However, there is a big step from observation to performing surgery, with surgical instruments in their hands,” Prof Guest said.

“In some of our hospitals, Epworth now has dual console surgical robots, so a trainee can gain a simulated experience, while an experienced surgeon performs the operation. It means the trainee surgeon is seeing and feeling what the senior surgeon is doing and you can phase the level of responsibility the trainee surgeon takes on.”

“It’s like learning to drive, when you sit in a car with a driving instructor who has a dual control. It is a tremendous way of teaching surgeons.”

In 2019, bariatric surgeon, Dr George Kalogeropoulos became the first at Epworth Geelong to introduce robotic surgery for weight loss patients. He has carried out more than 36 robotic bariatric surgery procedures, enabling complex procedures to be performed safely and effectively.

In 2021, Epworth Geelong was the first hospital in regional Victoria to purchase a Mako robot for orthopaedic surgery.

Last financial year, 285 robotic orthopaedic, general, urology and gynaecological surgery procedures were undertaken at Epworth Geelong.

General surgeon Dr David Wardill has been internationally recognised for his pioneering work in robotic surgery for the management for large complex hernias. He completed 47 robotic surgeries at Epworth Geelong last financial year.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Andrew Byrne has was the first at Epworth Geelong to use a robot to perform total knee replacement surgery in 2018. Since then, he has performed more than 500 total knee replacements using robots.


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