Robotic surgery is first for Saudi Arabia

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Updated 20 February 2020

Robotic surgery is first for Saudi Arabia

  • High-tech breakthrough ‘a piece of art,’ says specialist after operation success

RIYADH: New technology allowing for robot-assisted joint surgery was launched by Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Humanitarian City (SBAHC) last week in a first for Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Khalid Al-Sheikh, an orthopedic surgeon at SBAHC who specializes in joint reconstruction, told Arab News that the new technology ensures high levels of accuracy and safety, critical factors in all surgery.

“The main advantages of having the surgery done using a robotic arm is, first, the accuracy of our cuts and implant placement and, second and more importantly, the safety,” he said.

SBAHC began using the robot recently and has operated on about 20 patients.

“We’re very enthusiastic about the technology and we’re happy doing these cases with a bit more comfort because of the safety that it offers,” Al-Sheikh said. “We want to see whether it really affects our patients’ pain as has been reported from other centers.

“Today is going to be my third or fourth operation using this technology. Next week I’m also going to have a few cases. We’re trying to concentrate and build up our own experience with our own population, which is extremely important,” he said.

Al-Sheikh said that that osteoarthritis is one of the main problems affecting the population worldwide. While the causes of arthritis are mainly genetic, other factors can be involved.

“In some families, it affects them in their early fifties, and that probably is 20 percent to 30 percent of the population. People who are affected between the ages of 55 and 65 are probably 50 to 60 percent of the population. In other families, maybe the fortunate ones, they are affected a bit later. So, after the age of 65, up to 80,” he said.

Al-Sheikh said that he saw his patients in the clinic this week “and they are very happy with the total knee replacement so far.”

“Usually total knee replacements need rehabilitation. I’m not expecting to have an acute impact because the surgical pain takes over. It’s the same surgical pain. What I’m expecting is to see a bit of a difference at the three months, six months and one-year visits,” he said.

Surgery with robotic assistance takes about 90 minutes, Al-Sheikh said.

“Every surgery or new technique has a learning curve. The nice thing about the robotic-assisted surgery, the learning curve is about 16 to 20 cases to have it done in an equivalent time to a regular classic total knee replacement. We did not exceed an hour and a half, which is very fair.

“What I care about is always my patients. So, if I see that a surgery took more than two hours, then I’m wary about it because it may increase the infection rate. But if I’m under two hours, I’m happy,” he explained.

Al-Sheikh said that he is selective with technology, which must be analyzed and assessed to show that it benefits the patient.

He described the robotic technology as “a piece of art that provides precision, accuracy and safety” — critical factors in surgery.

Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Humanitarian City seeks to provide medical services in accordance with the latest standards as it sets out to achieve all the goals set in conjunction with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in the development of the health sector.

Saudi customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

Saudi Health Ministry officials distribute roses to people following precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus. (Supplied)
Updated 05 August 2020

Saudi customs train dogs to sniff out infected air travelers

  • 1,983 critical cases reported, death toll reaches 2,984

JEDDAH: Saudi Customs officials are taking the lead in identifying air travelers harboring the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) — by using specially trained sniffer dogs.

The canine virus detectors are being drafted in at airports throughout the Kingdom to help pick up the scent of infected passengers.
Following the resumption of international flights, customs staff in Saudi Arabia are to use the animals as part of their efforts to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
The customs authority, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been training Jack Russell terriers and other breeds to recognize the odor of COVID-19.
“The training has been 80 percent successful,” said Mohammed Al-Salloum, director of the National Center for Living Means at Saudi Customs, adding that final preparations were being put in place for the dog teams to start work in airport terminals throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Ministry of Health on Tuesday announced 1,342 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the total number in the Kingdom to 281,435.
Of the latest cases, 97 were recorded in Riyadh, 56 in Makkah, 53 in Madinah and Hafr Al-Batin, and 51 in Dammam, with 40 percent of them women. There were 34,763 active cases, with most patients in a stable condition, and 1,983 critical.
The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 243,688 with 1,635 of those being in the latest 24-hour period. The Kingdom reported 35 new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the overall toll to 2,984.
The ministry said it had carried out 54,325 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests over 24 hours taking the total number of checks conducted since the outbreak to 3,528,040.