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How robotic surgery and imaging are advancing healthcare

17 May 2016
Technology is changing healthcare for the better

New facilities unveiled at the Institute of Academic Surgery put Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney at the forefront of training, research and innovation in surgery.

Launched by NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, the new Institute of Academic Surgery (IAS) is a partnership between Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) and the university made possible through funding from government, private philanthropy, the university and the hospital.

Based at RPAH, the IAS facilities mean trainee surgeons and medical students can practise and advance their skills in a simulated environment before working in real operating rooms.

The $6.5 million IAS has been ten years in development and features a simulated operating room, surgical and microsurgery labs, a tissue biobank and areas for clinical research and education. It will also house RPA’s exemplary renal and liver transplant team, which last month celebrated 30 years of transplants. 

The Institute’s facilities will be complemented by a planned ‘hybrid’ surgical robotics training centre located adjacent to RPAH at the university’s Charles Perkins Centre (CPC).

This is what academic surgery is all about – the incorporation of research and education into everyday clinical practice.
NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner

RPAH is Australia’s only public tertiary hospital with a da Vinci Xi surgical robot and will soon be used to guide and assist procedures in cardiothoracic, urology, gynaecology and colorectal surgery. The technology will permit surgeons to work with greater precision while making less invasive incisions resulting in better outcomes and improved recovery times.

The CPC’s ‘hybrid’ surgical robotics training centre will house advanced CT and MRI imaging, a fully functional operating room and two da Vinci surgical robots, providing the only robotic training facility in the southern hemisphere.

‘Hybrid’ surgery involves the integrated use of imaging, robotic and percutaneous surgical techniques to perform minimally invasive procedure with precision capable of improving outcomes and minimising harm. This approach emphasises multidisciplinary care and typical hybrid procedures involving experts from several specialties.

Together, the technologies and personnel located at the IAS and the CPC will be Australia’s only facilities uniting robotic surgery, research, training and clinical care.

In time, they will form part of a comprehensive suite of robotic surgery and imaging infrastructure providing unprecedented opportunities for surgeons, scientists, engineers and medical device manufacturers to collaborate across the hospital-university precinct.

The University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, said the Institute of Academic Surgery and the planned ‘hybrid’ surgical robotics training centre represented “the shared commitment to research driven healthcare by the university, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney Local Health District.

“This commitment is another example of the deep relationship between the university and the local health district and our shared push for education and research to improve the health of our community,” he said.

NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner said: “This is what academic surgery is all about – the incorporation of research and education into everyday clinical practise to improve the lives of our patients today and for decades to come.”

Hear ABC's PM's interview with Co-Directors of the IAS, Professor Michael Solomon and Professor Paul Bannon.

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