In what will be an Australian-first, the Victorian Government has announced plans to create a robot academy that will train surgeons in how to use the advanced tech to perform leading edge procedures on hard-to-reach and small spaces in the body.
The Australian Medical Robotics Academy, which be located in the heart of Victoria’s biomedical precinct in Melbourne’s Parkville, will train surgeons to conduct minimally invasive surgery for prostate cancer and other conditions.
Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy yesterday announced a $2 million funding injection into the Australian Prostate Centre’s plans to build the new international centre for excellence in medical robotics.
“We’re putting Victoria at the forefront of the highest standards of surgical training. The world’s brightest medical minds will travel here from all over the world to learn new skills,” Hennessy said.
Robotics surgery currently features at a small number of private hospitals in Victoria and the training will allow it to become more commonplace throughout the state and beyond, in what has been described as a major advance in everyday surgery.
“This cutting-edge facility will usher in a new age of surgery that will change the lives of patients from right around the world. It’s more proof Victoria is a world-leader in cancer research and innovation.”
The robot academy will contain virtual reality simulators for surgeons to use to build their skills. The state-of-the-art technology provides feedback on the efficiency of their movements and errors during simulated surgeries, allowing clinical specialists to grow in proficiency before conducting procedures on live patients.
According to the government, the Australian Medical Robotics Academy will be completed by the end of 2019.
Robotics surgery is primarily used in the treatment of prostate cancer but has also been harnessed for gynaecological procedures, and ear, nose and throat surgeries.
Its precision leads to improved patient survival rates, lower infection rates, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries.
More than 4784 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in Victoria in 2016, with 781 dying from the disease, making it the most common cancer in the state. In 2018, it is estimated 17,729 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in Australia, comprising almost a quarter of all new male cancer diagnoses. Nationwide, about 3500 men are expected to die from the disease this year.
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