Mount Sinai plans advanced research into robotic surgery

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A pioneer in adopting robotic technology and minimally invasive surgery, Mount Sinai Health System in New York has established a new robotics institute so it can advance its groundbreaking work in the field through clinical research and training in advanced surgical techniques.

For nearly a decade, surgeons at Mount Sinai have leveraged robotic surgery to treat myriad medical conditions, including urological disease, oral and throat cancers, obstetrics, cardiovascular disease, as well as neurological conditions. Now, the healthcare provider is attempting to tap into its surgeons’ considerable experience and to disseminate what it’s learned more broadly.

The Mount Sinai Robotics Institute, established at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will serve as an international technology hub to provide surgeons from around the world with educational and research programs designed to improve surgical outcomes.

“Every specialty where robots have been used will be incorporated into the Institute,” says Ash Tewari, co-chair of the Institute and Kyung Hyun Kim Chair of the Milton and Carroll Petrie Department of Urology at Mount Sinai. “Urology is one of the specialties that has benefitted a lot from robotics, as well as ear, nose and throat. Surgeons of different specialties will be working together as part of an interdisciplinary team.”

For his part, Tewari has developed a robotic prostate surgery technique called Advanced Robotic Technique prostatectomy, or ART, used to remove cancer and to minimize side effects in select patients through a highly personalized technique tailored to a patient’s unique anatomy, cancer location and neural structure. ART enables the removal of the prostate while at the same time preserving sexual and urinary function.

“Robots are becoming smarter and more facile, and they are allowing us to incorporate other data such as imaging and genomics in the same console,” adds Tewari. “So, it’s becoming a unified technology platform.”

According to Tewari, Mount Sinai was an early adopter of the da Vinci Surgical System and also has the distinction of being one of the only locations in the United States that has dedicated such a system solely to teach residents and fellows robotic surgery techniques. Powered by robotic technology, the system enables a surgeon’s hand movements to be translated into smaller, precise movements and minimally invasive surgical techniques.

“Ultimately, it’s the surgeon that is controlling everything. But, the robot serves as an intermediary tool for executing the surgeon’s instructions,” Tewari contends.

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He sees “research, training, mentoring and simulation” as the next level with the establishment of the Mount Sinai Robotics Institute that will benefit not only its own surgeons but “visitors from around the world.”

Currently, at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, first-year medical students can participate in a Robotic Anatomy Training Day in which students perform robotic surgery on cadavers. Started eight years ago, the course was the first of its kind in the U.S. and Icahn is still one of the only schools globally to offer it.

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