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Prof Dr Lutz Mirow

Head Physician of the Department of General & Visceral Surgery, Hospital Chemnitz, Germany

A surgeon at a hospital in Germany says his patients are benefitting from improved outcomes and quicker recoveries after introducing a surgical robot.


A German hospital has seen improved recovery times for patients after a year of using a surgical robot, that enables surgeons to operate more precisely, according to one of its leading doctors.

Public and teaching hospital Klinikum Chemnitz was the first hospital in Germany to use the Versius Surgical Robotic System, made by CMR Surgical.

Experiencing the technology

Versius is smaller than other surgical robots and modular, so rather than being one large machine, it is made up of four independent robotic arms, with joints at the shoulder, elbow and wrist, much like a human arm. The arms can be positioned around the operating table to suit surgical needs and are operated by a surgeon sitting at an open console within the operating room. The system is now being used at hospitals in Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America.

The surgical robot can be used for most soft tissue surgeries, including surgery for colorectal cancer, as well as gynaecology, urology, thoracic and general surgery. 

Prof Dr Lutz Mirow, Head Physician of the Department of General and Visceral Surgery at Klinikum Chemnitz, says: “I chose Versius because of its modular structure, which means you can adjust the robot to suit the surgery, unlike some other systems which mean adjusting the surgery to the robot.

More precision means faster recovery

“It makes minimally invasive surgery even less invasive, because we can carry out more precise operations, and it enables surgeons to preserve the nerves much more successfully,” Mirow says. “Also the excision of the lymph nodes where it is required in cancer surgery is far easier.

“More precise surgery means less trauma for patients, so they recover more quickly. In general, we find that they are being discharged about a day earlier than before.”

The hospital started using the robot-assisted surgery for smaller operations such as cholecystectomies (gall bladder removal) and has expanded its use to include colorectal, pancreatic and liver resections and gastrectomy (removal of part of the organ).

“As the first hospital in Germany to use Versius, we found that it took less time than we expected to learn to use the system, thanks in part to the partnership with CMR. Teams from many other European countries now come to observe us using it,” says Mirow.

More precise surgery means less trauma for patients, so they recover more quickly. In general, we find that they are being discharged about a day earlier than before.

Benefits for patients and clinicians

The surgical team welcomed the new surgical robot. He says: “The whole team were enthusiastic about it and I received plenty of requests from nurses to be part of the team. The introduction of the system turned out to be a real team-building exercise.”

Once patients understand that they are to be operated on not by a robot alone, but by a surgeon assisted by the robot, they are excited about the idea, Mirow says. “Patients are fascinated by the idea. This may be a psychological factor that aids their faster recovery.”

The future of surgery

Developments in medical technology mean that surgical robotics is progressing fast, and Mirow says: “I expect to see increased use of robots – in fact I foresee a future where all surgery will be carried out with the aid of surgical robotics.”

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