National Taiwan University Hospital yesterday celebrated the first robotic-assisted living donor liver resection and procurement surgery in Asia, which was performed in Taiwan early last month.
Following the completion of a robot-assisted kidney transplantation surgery last year, the hospital on May 2 performed the first robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for right liver lobe resection and procurement for an adult-to-adult living-donor liver transplantation.
More than 500 liver transplants are conducted in Taiwan every year, 90 percent of which involves live donor liver transplantation, said Hu Rey-heng (胡瑞恆), director of the hospital’s Department of Surgery.
“Compared with conventional surgeries involving large incisions, minimally invasive surgeries cause less postoperative pain, shorten the hospital stay” and leave less scarring, Hu said.
A 22-year-old man donated 60 percent of his right liver lobe to his father who had polycystic liver disease and hepatic failure. He received five small incisions ranging in size from 0.8cm to 1.2cm in the abdomen to allow the entry of the robotic arms to perform liver resection, said the surgeon, Wu Yao-ming (吳耀銘).
“After the completion of the resection, another incision about 8 to 10cm wide was made in his lower abdomen to procure the liver,” Wu said.
“A conventional liver transplant operation would leave a 40cm incision, shaped like a Mercedes-Benz logo, but the small incisions made by MIS look better, cause fewer post-operative complications and shortens recovery time,” Wu said.
Both father and son recovered with no postoperative complications and have since been discharged.
The hospital has performed 422 cases of minimally invasive surgeries using the da Vinci Surgical System since last year, Wu said. “Taiwan is seeing an increase in surgeries using the da Vinci system since 2004, with the number of cases increasing 138 percent last year compared with a year ago,” Wu said.
Explaining the advantages of the latest technique, Wu said the robotic system provides the surgeon with 3D high-definition visualization, and steady and high-precision robotic hands.
It requires only one surgeon sitting in front of a monitor instead of three to four surgeons standing over the patient for more than 10 hours, he added.
However, “the robotic MIS is not covered by the National Health Insurance and the procedure costs about NT$200,000,” Wu added.