Robotic surgery

Robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci® S HD surgical system was introduced at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac) in 2010.

This state-of-the-art technology allows surgeons to perform complex surgery through keyhole incisions, thereby reducing morbidity and hospital stay when compared to conventional open surgery. Although widely available in the private hospital sector across Australia, Peter Mac is one of the few public hospitals in Australia to offer robotic surgery. We have an internationally-recognised robotic surgery program with many presentations, publications, and media contributions from our team of leading robotic surgeons.

What is robotic surgery?

Commonly referred to as a ‘robot’, the da Vinci® is a surgical tool which facilitates complex laparoscopic surgical procedures. It is not capable of independent movement but responds to the surgeon’s commands via an advanced remote-control system.

The surgeon sits at a console in the corner of the operating theatre, viewing live 3-D images of the patient’s inner organs. The robot is positioned over the patient, deploying its telescope and instruments deep inside the body. Using hand and foot controls, the surgeon manipulates the camera system and miniature instruments deep inside the patient’s body, allowing extremely precise and delicate surgery to be performed through tiny incisions.

da Vinci© surgical robot in action at Peter Mac

What can robotic surgery be used for?

Robotic surgery is reserved for complex procedures and therefore its most common applications are in cancer surgery. The most commonly performed robotic surgery procedure worldwide is robotic assisted radical prostatectomy (robotic prostatectomy) and this is now the most popular surgical approach for men with localised prostate cancer in much of the Western world. Open surgery for prostate cancer has steeply declined and robotic surgery is now the most popular approach for prostate cancer in Victoria. Peter Mac performs more radical prostatectomies than any other public hospital in Victoria.

Other procedures that can be performed using robotic assisted surgery include:

  • removal of small kidney cancers
  • surgery for colo-rectal cancer
  • hysterectomy
  • removal of the urinary bladder for bladder cancer
  • head and neck cancer surgery (trans-oral robotic surgery)
  • removal of tumours within the chest
  • surgery for stomach and oesophageal cancers.

Robotic surgery at Peter Mac

Thanks to generous philanthropic funding through the Peter Mac Foundation, a da Vinci® S HD surgical system was installed at Peter Mac in 2010. The Robotic Surgery Program is Directed by Associate Professor Declan Murphy, Consultant Urologist & Director of Genitourinary Oncology at Peter Mac. Associate Professor Murphy is internationally recognised as a leader in the area of robotic surgery and prostate cancer.

Associate Professor Declan Murphy, Director of Robotic Surgery at Peter Mac

In July 2010, the first robotic prostatectomy was performed at Peter Mac and the program has since expanded to include many other surgical procedure types. Robotic surgery is now offered for patients across six tumour streams including:

Genitourinary oncology: prostate cancer, kidney cancer

A/Prof. Declan Murphy

Dr Daniel Moon

A/Prof Nathan Lawrentschuk

Dr Jeremy Goad

Robotic prostatectomy explained

Colorectal oncology: rectal cancer, total pelvic exenteration

A/Prof Craig Lynch

Thoracic oncology: thymectomy, thoracic malignancies

A/Prof. Gavin Wright

Dr Stephen Barnett

Head and neck oncology: Trans-oral robotic surgery for tonsil and floor-of-mouth cancers

Dr Ben Dixon

Dr Matt Magarey

Gynae-oncology: uterine and ovarian cancer

A/Prof Orla McNally

Upper gastrointestinal oncology: gastric and oesophageal cancer

Dr Cuong Duong

Referrals for robotic surgery at Peter Mac

Referrals for patients interested in robotic surgery are accepted from general practitioners or from other specialists. New patients are usually seen within a week or two, and the waiting list for surgery is typically less than three months. There are no additional fees for patients undergoing robotic surgery at Peter Mac.

Find more information regarding referrals to Peter Mac.


Emma Birch

Robotic Surgery Nurse Coordinator

Phone: 03 8559 5000

E-mail: [email protected]