A team of doctors in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi became the first in the United Arab Emirates to perform a robotic Whipple surgery or pancreaticoduodenectomy. "Using robotics enables us to have more dexterity and control, increases our visibility, reduces the surgeon’s muscle tremor and enables us to move our instruments in a way that a human wrist cannot," according to Dr Yasir Akmal, a Staff Physician of General and Oncologic Surgery in the Digestive Disease Institute of the said institution.
The Whipple procedure, or pancreaticoduodenectomy, is the most common surgery to remove pancreatic tumours. It involves surgical removal of the head of the pancreas, the duodenum, the gallbladder, and the bile duct. After the procedure, the remaining organs are then reattached. Using robotics in the process results in fewer surgical wounds and reduced pain and recovery time for the patient.
Not all patients are candidates for robotic surgery. The hospital discusses concerns on robotic-assisted procedures with patients and their families. Dr Akmal admits that patients are concerned about the surgeon’s involvement in the operation. “We reassure them that the robot is just an advanced tool to assist us. The team always has a surgeon on the console controlling the robot and one at the bedside guiding and tailoring the procedure to the patient."
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is one of the few advanced hospitals in the UAE with a multidisciplinary team possessing a high level of expertise in medical robotics. Using robotic-assisted procedures radically improved the care and treatment of several debilitating diseases affecting internal organs. According to Dr Akmal, patients in the region are increasingly seeing the advantages of robotic-assisted surgery, as robotic-assisted surgery is becoming the standard of surgical care in many advanced hospitals around the world.