Human vs. Robot: Why robotic surgery is a game-changer.


While robotics for use in surgery was envisioned as far back as the 1960’s, it took almost 30 years to complete the first fully functional multipurpose surgical robot.1

As a little kid I dreamed of becoming a doctor, and as a medical student I was first able to experience the power of robotics in medicine.

Now, as a bariatric and upper gastrointestinal surgeon, I feel fortunate to operate at Calvary Adelaide Hospital where I regularly perform surgery using the most technologically advanced robotic platform available – The Da Vinci Xi System.

Dr Balalis on site at Calvary Hospital using the Da Vinci Xi robotic advice for surgery.

The Da Vinci Xi robotic surgery device

This robotic device provides advanced energy (the ability to cut through tissue) as well as stapling devices – the latter enabling me to close off or alter the shape of a person’s anatomy by sealing it with staples.

This is the only system that enables both stapling and energy as part of the robot, not relying on a ‘hybrid approach’ where the surgeon goes back to the table and performs this via a more traditional laparoscopic approach.

Having both these elements in one robotic platform is a game-changer for me.

Not only does it afford end-to-end surgery using a single piece of advanced technology, but it also allows me more control.

Now, I am sure that I am not the first surgeon ever to be overjoyed by control, but this isn’t about ego. In fact, I’d like to think that involving robotics in surgery directly counteracts that to an extent.

The advantage of robotic surgery

The reason this is so important, is that it allows the surgeon to control/fire the stapler when cutting parts of the stomach or using the energy device to cut through tissue. That is, I can perform two surgically significant actions at one time, without relying on an assistant. This is all done through the robotic platform, not by my assistant or through more traditional laparoscopic instruments.

I will always have an assistant present, however I feel very strongly that as a surgeon, it is my role to perform sealing and cutting. Without a system like Da Vinci, this is not always possible due to the simultaneous nature of these actions.

Embracing robotic surgery for patient outcomes

I am currently the only surgeon using the Da Vinci robotic device for bariatric/weight loss surgery at Calvary Adelaide Hospital, and I am proud to enable this option for my patients.

Where technological advances can help drive patient outcomes, especially when it comes to safety and shorter operative and recovery times, I am a great supporter.

In the future there may be more platforms that are able to provide all of the advanced controls that the Da Vinci robot provides, and I look forward to that day.

Read more about robotic surgery with the da Vinci system here.

Disclaimer: This is the opinion of Dr George Balalis and does not constitute medical advice or paid promotion. If you are considering weight loss or upper gastrointestinal surgery, please contact us on (08) 8164 6945 to schedule an appointment so we can advise on the best treatment for you.


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