Robotic Surgery in the US


June 5, 2014

Dr.Mahendra Bhandari, CEO of the Vattikuti Foundation announced that the ongoing Foundation-funded robotic kidney transplant project has had the three first robotic kidney transplants successfully completed in Detroit.  Robotic Kidney Transplantation with Regional Hypothermia was the first medical study in the world to use a novel method of cooling a donated kidney before it is placed in the patient.  The surrounding tissue and kidney are also cooled inside the body with more ice while it is being surgically grafted to the recipient.  Dr. Mani Menon, Chair of the Vattikuti Urology Institute atHenry Ford Hospital in Detroit devised the method, which has undergone years of planning and development.  The results were recently published in the journal European Urology and presented at the American Urology Association conference in Orlando, Florida last month.

Robotic Kidney Transplantation Approach

Doctor Performs First Robotic Surgery in the U.S.

Surgeons from The Vattikuti Urology Institute (VUI) at Henry Ford Hospital (HFH) and from Medanta Hospital in India collaborated at HFH in Detroit to perform robotic kidney transplants May 13th, 14th and 27th at Henry Ford Hospital.  The kidneys, taken from living donors related to the patients, were immediately cooled with sterile ice slush in special gauze jackets and also kept cool inside the body during the transplant procedure.  Additional ice slush was delivered by special syringes through a device called a Gelport.  The ice slush helps preserve the donated kidney’s tissue while the vein, artery and ureter are connected surgically with the aid of the surgeon-controlled da Vinci robot.  (The robot does nothing by itself, the surgeon; using hand and foot controls makes the precision robotic tools do the work.)  Tiny incisions in the abdomen of the patient are all that are needed to let the robotic tools get inside.  The new kidney is delivered through the Gelport, which is placed through a small incision near the umbilicus (belly button).

Preliminary studies were conducted in India with over 120 robotic kidney transplants.  VUI surgeons in partnership with surgeons from Vattikuti Foundation-sponsored robotic programs at two hospitals performed the procedures.  The results have been noteworthy, with shorter recovery times and significantly less pain reported by the patients. The studies already released are making news in medical journals worldwide.  The findings were released to the American Urology Association last month by the HFH/VUI team.

Robotic Kidney Surgery

The Vattikuti Foundation, long a sponsor of the work of Dr. Mani Menon, helped fund the study in India and in Detroit.  Dr. Menon is known globally for his development of the first successful robotic surgery program in the world at the Vattikuti Urology Institute at Henry Ford Hospital.  He developed the robotic kidney transplant technique idea through years of research and collaboration.

Henry Ford Hospital transplant surgeons Dr. Atsushi Yoshida, Dr. Dean Kim and Dr. Wooju Jeong were part of the transplant team and were assisted by Dr. Rajesh Ahlawat, the Indian surgeon who has done the most robotic kidney transplants to date at his home hospital, Medanta Medicity.  Menon was present to observe and advise.

Menon explains his idea:  “What appealed to me as a surgeon was that, with robotics, I could see the tissues much, much better than I could see open.  I could see things that I was never able to see- with the robot…  The key to this was cooling the kidney, cooling the tissues around the kidney, and the simplest way- the most efficient way- turns out to be the simplest way.  You take sterile saline that comes in an I V bag, and you just slush it up, and then you put it in there… Time is precious when the kidney is out and the clock is ticking, and when you are learning how to do the operation.  If you’re working against the clock, you tend to make mistakes.  But if you can block the clock and say- ‘This kidney is going to survive, I’m not running a race, I just want to be precise about how I do this part of the operation,’ then, the kidney will survive, and the operation will be a success.”

Both initial patients were released four days after the successful transplants.  The Vattikuti Foundation has HD video of the first transplant procedure from Henry Ford Hospital available for media use. The 3rd patient was also released and is doing well.

On May 20th, Dr. Menon was awarded the H.H. Young Award at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting “For innovation in robotic surgery, changing the field of surgical therapy for prostate cancer and improving the quality of life for patients.”  It is the AUA’s second-highest honor.

The European Urology link to the video (from Indian transplants):

For further information, please contact: Dr. Mahendra Bhandari, C.E.O., Vattikuti Foundation, 248-281-2527, 313-516-3101 fax: 248-281-2550.


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