Turkish surgeons perform successful robot-assisted brain surgery
Professor Dr. Şükrü Çağlar (L-3) and Associate Dr. Ümit Eroğlu (R-3) are photographed with their team in Ankara, Türkiye, May 12, 2023. (AA Photo)

Surgeons from Ankara University's Ibn Sina Hospital have successfully performed the first two brain surgeries in the world using robotic intervention via the skull on intracranial tissue with the Da Vinci robot.

The surgeries were performed in specially designed operating rooms by Dr. Ümit Eroğlu, the brain and nerve surgery faculty member, under the chairmanship of professor Dr. Şükrü Çağlar, the head of the neurosurgery department at the Faculty of Medicine at Ankara University.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Eroğlu recalled that the Ankara University neurosurgery team had started the robotic surgery operations, particularly intraoral, five years ago and has since operated on a number of patients.

Noting that in the stated period, robot-assisted surgery as a method has been practiced worldwide, especially in spinal surgeries, Eroğlu said that the newly developed technologies started to remove the limitations in terms of surgeries, as doctors with the new robotic tools are now able to perform better surgeries.

"We started to use robotic surgery in brain surgeries in our clinic. After opening the cranium with the routine method, we used the Da Vinci robot to conduct the surgery. Thus, we have successfully implemented the first brain surgery in the world in which this method was used," Eroğlu said.

Providing information on the details of surgeries conducted with the Da Vinci robot, Eroğlu said one of the operations was on an arachnoid cyst in the brain and the other was a tumor close to the brain tissue.

Emphasizing the advantages of robotic-assisted brain surgeries, Eroğlu stressed the precision of the robotic tools as they are capable of more precise movements than hands. He also added that the stated method is effective in suitable cases.

Eroğlu also said that the groundbreaking outcome of the surgery will soon be published in one of the top-tier neurosurgery journals. Stating that they had increased the number of surgeries since the first operation five years ago, Eroğlu opined that the development in neurosurgery and other surgeries will shift toward hybrid surgeries.

Stating that the purpose of the development of the Da Vinci robot is to operate on astronauts in space, Eroğlu said 7G technology is required to implement this.

"The future is heading toward this. In the near future, a surgeon from Türkiye will be able to operate on a patient in the Netherlands." Explaining that they are writing a thesis on telesurgery and research and development (R&D) studies in this direction, Eroğlu also said that the stated technology requires financial resources and technological infrastructure, adding: "We may not be at that stage yet, but we are working on it."

Meanwhile, Dr. Şükrü Çağlar noted their teams conducted hourslong preparations ahead of the surgery. "We can call it a hybrid robot. This method should be seen as the technology of the future," he said.