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Robotic surgery to cure apnea beamed live to doctors worldwide
Saturday August 3, 2013 9:36 AM, IANS

Over 2,000 doctors across the world viewed a real-time live robotic surgery performed on two patients at the Asian Heart Institute here Tuesday to cure them of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or stoppage of breathing during sleep

The live 'workshop' was conducted to display the latest robotic technique called transoral robotic surgery at the base of the tongue - a complex procedure since it is a very heavy muscle situated deep inside the throat, carried out by well-known ENT surgeon Vikas Agrawal.

"OSA, which afflicts 13 percent of Indians, is a disorder in which a person stops breathing during the night, perhaps hundreds of times. These gaps in breathing are called 'apneas'. The disorder occurs when tissues in the upper throat collapse at different times during sleep, thereby blocking passage of air," Agrawal said.

The first-of-its-kind live session was attended by world-renowned robotic surgeons for OSA, Italian doctors Claudio Vicini and Filippo Montevecchi and AHI vice chairman Ramakanta Panda.

Agrawal said that both the patients operated upon Tuesday were non-obese and had attempted the continuous airway pressure therapy, but it did not work on them.

Though studies have suggested that obese people are four times more vulnerable to OSA, nowadays, more and more non-obese persons are coming up with severe OSA symptoms, he said.

Referring to a 2009 study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Agrawal said that the number of patients suffering from OSA could be strongly underestimated.

Of the approximate 13 percent of the population which is suffering from OSA, only four percent approach a doctor, and the incidence is three times higher in men compared to women, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Panda, a renowned heart surgeon, said the 'live surgery' on TORS is a step towards honing the skills and expertise of the medical community who will benefit from this surgical knowledge-sharing.

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