“We are pioneers all over the world”: the Chilean doctor’s technology for performing surgeries with magnets begins to be used in the public sector

In 2011, Dr. Alberto Rodríguez-Navarro created in Silicon Valley Levita Magneticscompany with which he intended to develop and market what was until then an innovative but still untested surgical tool.

The tool allows through an incision in the navel, introduce a camera and scissors with a small forceps at the tip. The latter is placed at the end of the gallbladder, while outside the body, on the skin of the abdomen, a magnet is installed that lifts the clamp and therefore also the gallbladder. In this way, the organ is lifted, cut with a scalpel and removed through the same navel.

A decade later, and sitting from his bedroom in Silicon Valley, USA, Rodríguez Navarro acknowledges the success of his invention: “It’s a completely new technology, we are pioneers all over the world.”

He assures that his invention will have a great impact on public health. “We want to demonstrate it in Chile, but it is a solution that is targeted so that it is in all the pavilions of the world.”

The levitating robot defines itself as a powerful solution to reduce surgical waiting lists, which currently numbers more than 330,000 people. Today, it has reached an important milestone by becoming the first magnetic technology used in the public sector in Chile.

Levitical robot. Photo: Levita Magnetics

Now the robot has started to be used in the public system. Since its launch, more than 50 surgeries have already been performed, including obesity surgeries at FACH Hospital, gallbladder and gynecological surgeries at Dr. Luis Tisné Hospital, and recently urological procedures at the San Borja Hospital. The future projection is to continue to cover other specialties, always with a focus on pathologies with high frequency and high impact on public health.

Levita Robot technology works with a system of magnets or magnets that allow organs to move in the abdomen. First, a camera and scissors with a small forceps at the end are inserted through an incision in the navel. The clamp is placed at the end of the organ, and a magnet is installed outside the body which lifts the clamp and with it the organ. As it rises, it is cut with a scalpel and removed.

Therefore improves specific surgeries of these areas in several respectssuch as bariatric, gallbladder, colon, appendix and gynecological operations, among others, scar reduction, postoperative complications, recovery time and several other aspects.

“We show that the robot has a double benefit, which is a benefit for the patient because it is a less invasive surgery, he spends less time in the hospital and occupies fewer days in bed. But also, it makes the surgeon more efficient, which means they can do more surgeries like this,” says Dr. Rodríguez Navarro.

The Chilean Doctor aims to double the capacity of hospitals, without having to increase the number of rooms or staff. However, the studies carried out have shown that not only does the time decrease, but that postoperative recovery also decreases by 25% and that hospitalization is reduced by 50%.

The Levita robot is currently awaiting approval by the Food and drug administration of the United States (FDA, its acronym in English), to certify that its technology is safe for patients, and thus, market it so that it reaches all the pavilions of the world.

“It’s very exciting to see that by developing a new technology you have a real impact”said Rodríguez Navarro. The innovation already enjoys the support of world-renowned surgeons from prestigious clinics in the United States, such as the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Duke University, among others.

Such has been the extent of innovation, that dr. Rodríguez Navarro was invited to present his invention in the plenary section of the last Annual Congress of the Society of Robotic and Digital Surgery (SRS for its acronym in English), positioning itself as the first company born in Latin America to reach said instance.

Although the company is headquartered in Silicon Valley, the Chilean doctor has set a goal democratize access to this type of technology in Chile: “I have my commitment to the country to bring this technology, and our efforts will be to place it in public hospitals. We are going to have a big impact and the idea is that the robot is accessible, that it is available for everyone “.

The company is already in talks with Chilean medical centers to create a magnetic surgery center. “My idea is to make it available to waiting lists. Trying to operate on as many patients as possible in Chile and showing that this has a benefit for the patients, for the surgeons and for the system”, specifies the doctor.

From his company, Levita Magnetics, he promotes the development of advanced human capital through the opening of the first robotics and artificial intelligence center in Chile.

Dr. Alberto Rodriguez Navaro.

The center has already started training Chilean engineers in biomedicine and foresees an initial investment of more than one million dollars. To this end, they have signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Chile and are in talks with other universities to collaborate in the training of professionals.

“I believe in Chilean talent”, express dr. Rodríguez Navarro, and says he is convinced of the impact that technology, robotics and artificial intelligence will have in the field of surgery and medicine.

“I am generally optimistic about what the industry can develop in Chile and I’m super happy that we are a company that writes the future of what will happen“, ends.

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