The same machine used to weld parts on Audi sports cars is now being used in pinhole surgery at North Shore Hospital.
The only difference is an X-ray imaging device fitted to the arm of the robot instead of a welding tool.
The state-of-the-art piece of equipment is at the centre of a new $1.7 million interventional radiology suite.
Patients will have access to minimally invasive procedures where the only wound is the size of a pinhole.
Surgeons make use of images displayed on television monitors to magnify the surgical elements as they operate through a tiny opening in the skin. Most procedures are over in less than three hours.
The suite is headed by endovascular specialist John Bottomley who has seven years' experience working at one of the largest vascular units in the United Kingdom.
The new unit aims to treat up to 1500 patients a year for diverse medical conditions ranging from internal bleeding to cancerous tumours.
"It is very advanced technology that has miniaturised surgery even further from keyhole to pinhole," Dr Bottomley says.
Ann Pearson was the first patient admitted to the suite, on January 30.
Ms Pearson has been on dialysis for 10 years and needs regular operations.
Dr Bottomley worked on Ms Pearson's arm while she watched live images of the quick and painless procedure on a big screen next to her. Ms Pearson was under local anaesthetic like most interventional radiology patients.
The service will save Waitemata area patients having to travel to Auckland or Middlemore Hospital.
Dr Bottomley says it will also remove the risk involved in transporting very sick patients by ambulance to another hospital.
"The suite is right next to the operating theatres and the intensive care unit so in the case of an emergency or a severe internal bleed we are right next door," Dr Bottomley says.
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