Hefei hospital uses China-developed robot to perform surgeries

Updated 2018-01-08 16:31:06

A Chinese-developed robot has been put into use at a hospital in the central Chinese city of Hefei to help perform orthopedic surgeries.

The machine, named Tianji, is said to be the only robot in the world that can perform surgeries on all different parts of the human spine.

Tianji debuted at the hospital in Hefei last week, conducting a 30-minute surgery for a 43-year-old patient who had been suffering from paralysis in his legs for more than a year.

Doctors scanned the patient and sent the results to Tianji's operating system, before the robot started performing its surgical tasks.

The whole procedure left only a small circular scar, around one centimeter in diameter, on the patient.

The patient barely bled during the surgery. Doctors with the hospital said the patient would have lost 2,000 milliliters of blood, if he had a non-robotic surgery.

"The use of the robot brings a lot of benefits," said Shen Cailiang, head of the hospital's orthopedics department.

Shen said patients who undergo Tianji's surgeries are expected to recover in a week, whereas those who have traditional surgeries will usually have to stay in hospital for up to three weeks for recovery.

"With Tianji, we no longer need to scan the patient repeatedly during a surgery. The robot helps reduce more than 70% of the radiation a patient is exposed to," said Shen.

It cost the hospital 15 million yuan, or some 2.3 million U.S. dollars, to purchase the robot last year.

Tianji was first unveiled in late 2016.

TINAVI, the Beijing-based producer of the robot, said Tianji has been used by two leading hospitals in Beijing for over 2,000 orthopedic surgeries so far.

A hospital in the southwestern city of Chengdu also started using the robot last year.

Since it was initiated in 2002, the development of Tianji has been led by Tian Wei, a leading orthopedist with Beijing's Jishuitan Hospital, which is best known for its orthopedic surgeries.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beihang University have also participated in the development of the surgical robot.

The three parties jointly set up TINAVI in 2005.

Tianji's two predecessors were respectively unveiled in 2009 and 2012.

GCiS, a Chinese market research firm, estimates China's surgical robot market is on course to hit 2.2 billion yuan by 2021, nearly three times larger than the level in 2016.

The market is currently dominated by the da Vinci Surgical System, which entered China about a decade ago after gaining recognition from the Chinese government. The da Vinci was developed by Intuitive Surgical, a Nasdaq-listed US firm.

One da Vinci robot is sold for around 3 million U.S. dollars in China.

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