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.

Number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia could hit 200,000, says health minister

Updated 48 min 7 sec ago

Number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia could hit 200,000, says health minister

  • Minister added it was vital the public cooperated with the government’s instructions and precautionary measures

RIYADH: The number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia could reach up to 200,000 within a few weeks, according to the Kingdom’s health minister.

Citing four Saudi and international studies on Tuesday, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the case figure is likely to see a constant increase rather than a decrease, Saudi Press Agency reported.

"Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000," Al-Rabiah said.

The minister added it was vital the public cooperated with the government’s instructions and precautionary measures to limit the number of infections.

“There is no doubt that our commitment to the instructions and procedures, in its entirety reduces the number of cases to the minimum, while non-compliance will lead to a huge increase in the number of cases,” he said.

“We stand today at a decisive moment as a society in raising our sense of responsibility and contributing together with determination to stop the spread of this pandemic,”

Many people were not taking the dangers of the pandemic seriously enough, according to the health minister, adding that the Kingdom had death with the crisis with full “transparency and clarity.”

The Saudi health ministry also announced on Tuesday that there were a total of 2,795 confirmed cases and the death toll from the virus in the Kingdom had reached 41.

A 24-hour curfew and lockdown has been imposed in the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran and Al-Hofuf and in the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Last week, King Salman issued a decree which ordered treatment to be available for anyone in need of medical care, including people who have overstayed their visa in the Kingdom.