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New robotic surgery training facility opens in Sydney

New robotic surgery training facility opens in Sydney article image

More Australian surgeons will be trained to use robots at the operating table, with the opening of the country's first robotic surgery training facility at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital.

The Surgical and Robotics Training Institute will have the capacity to train 400 surgeons a year and offer more public patients access to these less-invasive procedures for little or no cost.

Operating metres away from a patient while controlling guiding robotic arms could become a new norm for surgeons going into the future, but there are still questions over whether robots can do a better job.

"Robotic surgery allows us to perform complex procedures at a distance with great precision and great control," the institute's director, Professor Paul Bannon, told ABC News.

"We want to know how to teach robotic surgery and how to teach it better and we want to know exactly what the benefits to the patients are."

Busy schedules

For more than a decade, robotic machines have largely been used in private hospitals for procedures like robotic prostatectomy to treat prostate cancer and robotic mitral valve surgery for heart failure patients.

Australian surgeons have had to travel to California to develop their robotic skills and the institute will be the first in the southern hemisphere to offer comprehensive training.

"It made it very difficult for local surgeons from Australia to get there because of their busy schedules," one of the institute's trainers, urologist Dr Scott Leslie, said.

"These training centres were only available in the US."

The robot used to train Australian doctors costs about $4 million.

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