Last November, Dr. Antonio Alcaraz, head of the Hospital Clínic Barcelona Urology and Kidney Transplantation Service performed kidney surgery at the hospital using the Hugo robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system manufactured by Medtronic. This was the first time that this system had been applied in a multispecialty public hospital in Spain. More specifically, Dr. Alcaraz used the robot to perform a partial nephrectomy, which consists of removing the part of the kidney affected by a tumour.
The Hugo system is a complete robot-assisted solution for soft tissue surgery. It consists of a modular platform that can easily be moved from one operating theatre to another and that combines a high level of manoeuvrability and surgical precision with high-definition 3D visualization. It was created in order to increase the number of patients operated on using robot-assisted surgery, offering them the advantages of minimally invasive surgery. Although Hugo has begun to be used in urological surgery at the Hospital Clínic, there are also plans to use it for gynaecological and general surgery.
According to Dr. Alcaraz, the advantages of working with the Hugo robot include the fact that “it allows more patients to be operated on at a lower cost, which is much needed in the public health system". On a technical level, he also highlights the fact that Hugo has an open surgical console, which allow the surgeon to have more contact with the rest of the operating theatre and the independent arms can make it more versatile compared to other robots. With Hugo, the surgeon can be in full contact with the operating theatre at the same time as performing an essential task: controlling the surgical instruments while sitting at a console with a high-definition 3D screen.
Dr. Alcaraz also stresses that robotic surgery, unlike laparoscopic, is more comfortable, allowing the surgeon to work more comfortably and with precision: seated, with their arms well supported… “As if the surgeon is not comfortable and more tired, that has repercussions for the patient”, he says. In fact, according to Medtronic, the Hugo robot was designed taking into account the opinions of hundreds of surgeons and medical directors around the world, with whom they worked closely to discover the medical professionals’ needs and improve the product.
It also has advantages for the patient, especially because it allows minimally invasive surgery to be performed, which facilitates recovery as it involves fewer incisions. In comparison with open surgery, the minimally invasive surgery (MIS) carried out by the Hugo robot involves fewer complications, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays, and smaller scars.