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Robotic surgery successfully performed on 5 children in Helsinki

The technique improves recovery and will become more common, said HUS.

Uusi lastensairaala
The new Children's Hospital, where young patients recover after robot-assisted operations at Meilahti Hospital. Image: Kimmo Hiltunen / Yle

Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) announced Wednesday that it has implemented the use of robotically assisted surgery for children.

Five operations were completed during the summer. The procedures successfully alleviated kidney and ureter complaints, the hospital said. A splenotomy and gall bladder removal were also performed.

The operations themselves took place in the Meilahti Hospital's advanced facilities, while the patients were sent to recover in the new Children's Hospital.

The hospital said that using the robot-assisted technique improves the patients' recovery rates, and that in future about a dozen such operations will likely be carried out on children per year.

"Compared with traditional open surgery, robotic operations keep incisions smaller, guarantee safer working environments, less post-operation pain and faster recovery," said children's neurologist Niklas Pakkasjärvi. Arthroscopic examinations will also be improved by the technology.

Brisk recovery

"The children recover briskly and are sent home in good condition. In future we'll be able to broadening our spectrum of such operations on children," Pakkasjärvi said.

Adult operations, especially urological procedures, have been robot-assisted for years. The potential of expanding the robotic techniques to children was first surveyed in autumn 2018, and the first operations were performed this past spring.

"The learning curve for robot-assisted surgery includes preparation via computer modelling, experimental models and numerous instances of surgical assistance and observation," Pakkasjärvi said.

HUS said that all surgeons who perform operations with robots have long-standing careers in traditional open surgery.

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