A $3 million surgical robot has finally arrived at Grace Hospital.

The hospital announced the arrival of the da Vinci Si robot today after nearly two years fighting for funding to make it possible.

The robot will replace an older model whose technology has been superseded.

Robotic-assisted surgery is a minimally invasive (MIS) method of performing surgery.


The surgeon's hand movements are translated through the robot to miniaturised instruments inserted into small keyhole incisions in the patient's abdomen. A high-definition 3-D camera guides the surgeon during the procedure.

Grace Hospital was the first hospital in New Zealand to perform robotic surgery in 2007, and a team has been performing surgery with robotic assistance since then. Hospitals in Auckland and Christchurch also have surgical robots, but in view of the experience Grace surgeons have gained, many patients travel to Tauranga for their procedures.

General manager Janet Keys said the Si robot from Intuitive Surgical (USA) was a sizeable investment "but this latest technology means we're right up with rapid advances in the field, and takes us to another level".

"It will allow our surgeons to expand on the current urological, gynaecological and other abdominal procedures."

The Si robot will be available for its first procedures in June this year. Current procedures carried out with the robot are prostatectomies for prostate cancer, kidney modifications and some bladder procedures.

"In the near future, hysterectomies will be able to be performed once one of our local gynaecologists completes his training programme," Ms Keys said.