A medical transplant centre on the Italian island of Sicily said Monday it had carried out the world's first partial liver transplant using only a robot to remove the organ of the donor.
According to a statement from the ISMETT transplant centre in Palermo, only the arms of a robot entered the abdomen of the 44-year-old donor looking to save his 46-year-old brother suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.
Thanks to the robot, only five keyhole incisions and one nine-centimetre (3.5-inch) incision were required for the operation, the centre said.
"This is the first case in the world performed entirely and exclusively with the robotic technique," the centre said.
The procedure, known as hepatectomy, was performed in March but the news was held until the recipient was given a clean bill of health and discharged from hospital, the centre said.
"In the past, some living donor liver transplants had been performed in the US using the robot," but were aided by a surgeon who inserted his hand through an incision to perform the surgery with the robot, the centre said.
The procedure lasted 10 hours and the two brothers recovered well, with the donor leaving hospital after nine days and the recipient leaving a few weeks later.
The surgical first was carried out using the Da Vinci SHDI robotic surgical system, a multi-tentacled device conceived at the Robotic Surgery Center in Pisa.
"The use of new technologies in transplant surgery is extremely important since reducing trauma for patients may encourage living organ donations and increase the number of transplants," the centre said.