In a review of 104 studies, representing almost 230 000 patients and published in the World Journal of Urology recently, researchers analysed the outcomes of robotic-assisted procedures compared to laparoscopic and open retropubic radical prostatectomies (removal of cancerous prostate).
The review looked at major complications, operative time, length of hospital stays, blood loss, transfusions, conversions, rate of post-operative erectile dysfunction and incontinence, cost and positive surgical margin (PSM) which indicates whether the entire extent of the cancer was extracted during the operation.
“For PSM and peri- and post-operative complications, [robotic surgery] demonstrated better results than [open surgery] and laparoscopic radical prostatectomy,” noted the report.
Urologist and robotic surgeon Dr Francois Duvenage said the results echoed the experience at The Urology Hospital, Pretoria. It is the first institution in Africa to obtain a robotic surgical system which has conducted over 1 300 procedures since 2013.
“Robotic-assisted surgery is well known to be minimally invasive with less side effects. This study indicates it may also be able to better control cancer. The aim of the operation is to remove the prostate and all the inherent and surrounding cancer and this research shows that robotic surgery is leading in this regard.”
Just over 4% of all South African men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and an average five South African men die from prostate cancer every day.
In addition to prostatectomies, robotic surgery is offered at The Urology Hospital for partial nephrectomies, (removal of cancerous parts of the kidney) and cystectomies (removal of the bladder). It is the only specialised hospital of its kind in SA, comprising 23 urologists, 10 of whom are trained in robotic surgery – the highest concentration of robotic surgeons in the country.
The myths of microwaves
We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.
“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”
A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.
Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients
Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.
Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.
With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.
New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future
The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.
It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.
Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.
With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.
As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.
There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.
In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.
However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.
Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.