Surgical Robot takes up residence at Scienceworks

Daniel Moon sitting at the console of a da Vinci surgical system.
Daniel Moon sitting at the console of a da Vinci surgical system.
Image: Daniel Moon
Source: Daniel Moon
Media contact: Alex Dook


A robot that has performed more than 200,000 prostate removals is the latest addition to the new Think Ahead exhibition coming soon to Scienceworks.

The da Vinci surgical system, first used in Australia by surgeons at Epworth Hospital in 2003, was donated by the Epworth Hospital in Richmond. The robot was used for prostatectomies – the removal of cancerous prostates.

Dr Daniel Moon, urologist and Director of Robotic Surgery at Epworth Hospital, believes advances in robotic surgery have given surgeons dexterity and control that would be impossible with human hands.

"Removing prostates has always been delicate because you're operating near important tissues that control urinary and reproductive functions," said Dr Moon. "If you get the operation wrong by even a few millimetres, you can cripple someone."

Since the da Vinci's inaugural operation 10 years ago, it has assisted in more than 200,000 operations. Da Vinci systems are now used in dozens of hospitals across Australia, with the potential to be used for removing tumours from the uterus, bowel and kidneys, as well as repairing cardiac valves.

For Kate Phillips, Senior Curator of Think Ahead, the da Vinci surgical system shows how technology developed in one field can be useful in a completely different one. "The da Vinci system was made possible by the development of machines that assist astronauts in repairing satellites in space, as well as robots developed to treat wounded soldiers on the battlefield," said Ms Phillips.

Combining 200 objects from Museum Victoria's collection and more than 30 items from the wider science and technological community, Think Ahead is the first new permanent exhibition for Scienceworks in seven years.

"This new experience is unique to Scienceworks. We've integrated immersive multimedia technology with hands-on physical interactions, rare artefacts and the work of local innovators," said Ms Phillips. "Think Ahead showcases timelines of development across key areas of 20th and 21st century innovations, and asks the question: What's next?"

Think Ahead will open to the public on 5 December.

Museum Victoria Public Relations contact:
Alex Dook, 8341 7141 / 0478 348 880,

For all general public enquiries, contact the museum's Discovery Centre

Image Gallery

This is what robotic surgery looks like: an operating room featuring the da Vinci Si Surgical System. The surgeon operates the robotic arms with finely-calibrated finger controls.