St John of God Berwick Hospital Celebrates 100 Robotic Surgery Procedures

 Rob Charles, 67, became the 100th patient to receive a life-changing robotic surgery at St John of God Berwick Hospital. 

16 Sep 2020

100 Robotic case 

Rob Charles, a resident of Mornington, knew from research and advice from his specialist, Urological Surgeon Mr Tony De Sousa, that robotic surgery would be a good option given its proven outcomes around effective removal of cancer whilst minimizing surgical complications and post-operative pain.


St John of God Berwick Hospital

acquired the da Vinci Xi, an investment costing over $3.5 million, in September 2019.


St John of God Berwick Hospital has a number of surgeons trained in robotic surgery who are able to perform surgery on patients with disease in kidneys, bladder, bowel, prostate, stomach and the female reproduction organs.


The robot features arms which are placed into the patient’s body by the surgeon. These arms connect with the da Vinci’s advanced console system. The console allows the surgeon to sit in a comfortable position throughout the operation, giving them greater movement and dexterity than historical surgical techniques.


A year on and Mr de Sousa has recently completed the hospital’s milestone 100th robotic case whilst his colleague Mr Shekib Shahbaz, conducted the hospital’s first robotic case in September 2019.


“St John of God Berwick’s purchase of the da Vinci Xi robotic platform has been one of the most exciting medical developments for the Casey-Cardinia and Gippsland regions bringing world class technology to the people of the south east Melbourne and Eastern Victoria. 


The advanced, minimally invasive robot allows our patients access to the latest world class technology close to their homes,” said Mr Shahbaz.


Rob echoes the sentiment, “I am very pleased with the result and my recovery time and Berwick was certainly a better option all round than travelling into the city.”


The robot enables the surgeon to access traditionally difficult-to-reach areas and has allowed some patients to receive surgery which, historically, may not have been possible. 


“(The da Vinci Xi) allows the surgeon to operate with an unparalleled … precise and minimally invasive capability to enable excellent outcomes for the patient,” Mr Shahbaz explained.


St John of God Health Care South East Melbourne Hospitals CEO, Lisa Norman added, “It is exciting to be able to offer patients world-leading technology close to home and get the benefits of these minimally-invasive procedures which can enable them to recover faster in hospital and at home, and generally experience less pain,” she said.


The hospital’s most prevalent da Vinci surgical experience has been total removal of the prostate gland related to cancer. The classic presentation for this condition is difficulty passing urine and blood in the urine. It is important that men see their GP quickly to allow them to perform tests and then if required referral to a specialist urologist for ongoing treatment.


Men can frequently experience difficulty passing urine as a result of the prostate growing larger as part of the normal aging process. In a very small number of cases it relates to a cancer growth and the robot provides a great method to safely remove the prostate in this scenario.


The good news for men is whether poor urine flows relates to normal prostate enlargement or cancer related prostate enlargement, the urologist has multiple techniques to ensure good relief of symptoms depending on your specific circumstance, so please seek help from your GP if passing urine is an issue.


Mr Charles is thrilled with the outcome of his surgery and, whilst he is still required to have ongoing check-ups, he describes having the surgery as a, “huge load off his shoulders, both mentally and physically.” 


He now has his life ahead and looks forward to playing tennis at his club and travelling.

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