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QRSC to launch robotic surgery training in April.

DOHA Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre (QRSC), an initiative of Qatar Science and Technology Park with an investment of $65 million, will formally launch its training services in April this year. Talking to Qatar Tribune, QRSC Manager Jan Nuyens revealed that the first training session would be for cardiac surgeons from the Middle East during the Gulf Heart Association's (GHA) annual conference to be held in Doha on April 8 and 9. Nuyens also said that there would be large-scale clinical use of robotic surgery inQatar in a few years' time from now, as it was highly successful in the USA and Europe. A surgical robot costs around $2 million. Nuyens further said that robotic surgery, a relatively new technology, was catching on very fast. He said, "The number of applications is increasing. At present, it is widely used in urology, cardiac surgery, gynaecology and has some applications in general surgery. Dr Hassan al Thani has used robotic surgery to treat cancer in the HMC. The technology is currently being developed for ENT applications." According to Nuyens, robotic surgery is far less painful and less invasive. Moreover, it was safer and patients recovered faster, he added. Regarding the cost involved, he said, "The cost of robotic surgery is the same as the conventional one but, in some cases, the cost may be higher. But the advantages of this surgery far outweigh the cost. It allows for higher precision and is thus less invasive." He was quick to point out that in Qatar, the cost would be the same as incurred on conventional surgery for those using the services of the HMC. According to Nuyens, QRSC focuses on three areas: training, technology development and demonstration of surgical technologies. The QRSC will provide training in robotic surgery to different groups of health professional such as surgeons, nurses, operation theatre staff, scientists and hospital management. This will include clinical and scientific training alongside economic and practical aspects of installation of robotic surgery system in their respective hospitals. As for technology development, Nuyens said, there would be partnership with local universities and hospitals, besides international partners. The Centre also aims to develop new simulator technologies or new robotic platforms as well as innovative training and skill assessment tools. Thirdly, the Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre will act as an intermediary between clinical practitioners in the region and equipment providers to demonstrate innovative surgical technologies. Novel equipment will be demonstrated on an event basis or as part of the regular training programmes of the Centre. The brand new facility of QRSC is currently equipped with two robots and three simulators. There are three large training theatres, all equipped with 3-D projectors. One theatre will be used for tele-mentoring purposes where the trainer can teach from an operating room abroad or even demonstrate live a real surgery. Following the two-day training workshop in April, the technology development part will be launched in July. Two projects, by Qatar University and Texas A&M have been submitted to QNRF for approval and the results will be announced in June. In addition, there is collaboration with international partners such as American University of Beirut and Imperial College of London. Officially, QRSC will be inaugurated in October or November 2010. At present, there are two trainers in QSRC. One of them is a doctor and the other is an engineer and technical expert. Six surgeons of HMC were trained in collaboration with QRSC last year and these local experts will also be available for training. In addition, QRSC collaborates with international experts who will keep coming to Qatar to give training. This mix of different trainers is one of the unique features of QRSC as compared with the few training centres that exist internationally. Nuyens also said that there were not many robots in the Middle East yet. "There are nine in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar. One of the reasons of this low adoption rate is that it is difficult to train the people from the region as there was no training centre in the Middle East. "The expertise is to be found mainly in Europe or in the US. So the robots in Saudi Arabia are not used as often as they should be. In Qatar, that is not much of a problem, as the HMC robotic programme, directed by Dr Abdulla al Ansari, seems to be making good progress," Nuyens said.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Mar 7, 2010
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