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Voice-controlled robot makes complex gynaecological surgeries easier

The ViKY Uterus Positioner (ViKY UP) robot is a motorised device that uses voice commands to control the positioning of the uterus during complex gynaecological surgeries.

SINGAPORE: Patients undergoing gynaecological surgery will now be able to benefit from a new voice-controlled robotic system at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

The ViKY Uterus Positioner (ViKY UP) robot, operated via wireless Bluetooth headset, is a motorised device that uses voice commands to control the positioning of the uterus during complex gynaecological surgeries.

Traditionally, an assisting technician controlled the position of the uterus manually during surgery. This can be challenging as when the assistant gets fatigued, it becomes difficult for them to maintain the traction required on the uterus during the procedure's critical phases.

Dr Peter Barton-Smith, Senior Consultant with the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at SGH, elaborated: "For very complex cases which three, four or five hours, it's a long time to be sitting, holding the device and doing it in an accurate way and keeping it still. The system allows us to keep a steady field of view exactly where we want the position of the uterus to be, which then frees up that junior doctor for other duties or potentially to have a better learning experience in the operating theatre."

The Singapore General Hospital has conducted about 240 robot-assisted surgeries since last year. Fifty robot-assisted surgeries were conducted by the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at SGH, and half of these were for severe endometriosis.

Earlier this year, an SGH surgeon performed the first multi-robot assisted surgery in Asia on 27-year old Vargilia Welford. With the use of ViKY UP alongside another robotic system, surgery was performed on Ms Welford, who was suffering from severe endometriosis, a condition which affects about 10 per cent of women and in some cases, can cause severe abdominal pain and infertility. 

Ms Welford said: "I had a distended stomach. I had back aches and my legs were swollen."

After undergoing surgery, Ms Welford recovered in three weeks, which is half the time it takes with traditional surgery. She also did not have to pay additional costs for undergoing robotic surgery.

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