KOCHI: The world’s first endo-robotic surgery was performed on a 75-year-old woman at the VPS Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi. Devakiamma, a Palakkad native, started experiencing throat pain in 2022. When the pain became severe, she informed the children and was taken to a hospital. “She did not tell us about the condition for around seven months. Later, we took her to a hospital in Coimbatore when we came to know about this. She was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the food pipe (post-cricoid region). However, the doctors recommended palliative treatment as the cancer did not respond to the radiation treatment,” said Sathyendran K, Devakiamma’s son.
The patient was taken to VPS Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi in November 2023. “Usually, in such cases, surgical removal of the voice box and food pipe is the course of action followed by the reconstruction of the food passage using tissue from other parts of the body. However, in a full body scan, we found that the cancer had not spread anywhere else. So, we combined endoscopy with robotic surgery to treat it. Thus, endo-robotic surgery — a procedure in which the lower part of the head and neck cancer reaching the food pipe is removed using a combination of endoscopic surgery and robotic surgery — was performed for the first time in the world,” said Dr Shawn T Joseph, head of the Department of Head and Neck Oncology. The surgery was performed two months ago. “The part of the cancer that the robot couldn’t reach within the food pipe was incised using a gastro endoscope, while the upper part was approached from the oral cavity using robotic surgery. The traditional surgery causes challenges, including the loss of the natural ability to speak and eat. This procedure provides a new solution to this problem,” he added.
Age and health conditions are significant. “Age is a risk factor when it comes to complex procedures. Devakiamma is 75. However, she does not have any comorbidity. We explained to her about the procedure,” said Dr Roy J Mukkada, head of the Department of Medical Gastroenterology at Lakeshore Hospital.
Devakiamma is recovering and regaining the ability to talk and drink water. “I experienced severe throat pain and was not able to talk, drink water and eat food properly. I feel better after the surgery,” said Devakiamma.