In October 2000, Prof Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti carried out the first abdominal robotic surgical procedure at the 'Misericordia' Hospital in Grosseto. It was only a cholecystectomy but it marked the beginning of a new era of minimally invasive surgery. Up until that time, the Da Vinci Surgical System had been only used as an experimental prototype in war zones and also for some very selected cases of 'off-pump' coronary artery by-pass surgery. Since year 2000, robotic surgery in Grosseto has escalated thanks to the surgical intuitions of Prof Giulianotti and his team. In a relatively short period of time, extremely complex surgical procedures on lung, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver and pancreas were carried for the first time worldwide. In many of these procedures the robotic minimally invasive approach proved to be greatly advantageous not only compared to open surgery, but also to conventional laparoscopic surgery. Since then, the 'Misericordia' Hospital experience has represented a cornerstone within the robotic surgical community, and currently is a national centre of excellence of minimally invasive surgery. Furthermore, since 2003, the 'Misericodia' Hospital is the host institution of the 'International School of Robotic Surgery', founded by Prof Giulianotti.
In March 2007, Professor Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti left 'Misericodia' Hospital to work at the 'University of Illinois at Chicago' (UIC) where he had the opportunity to take his robotic surgical innovative ideas even further. However, he maintained a strong link with the Grosseto environment by remaining the director of the School of Robotic Surgery, and by promoting several research collaborations between the UIC and the 'Misericordia' Hospital. At the UIC, Prof Giulianotti has expanded the use of robotic surgery to transplant surgery, especially with regards to live donor liver and kidney transplantation. He ha also founded the 'Clinical Robotic Surgery Association' CRSA, the surgical association which attracts the vast majority of robotic surgeons worldwide and aims to promote robotic surgery development and research.
In april 2007, Professor Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti moved to Chicago, where he actually works as Director of the Department of Robotic Surgery at the University of Illinois Medical Center, and handed over the baton to his young and brilliant assistant, Dr. Andrea Coratti. Dr. Coratti was the Head Chief of the General Surgery Unit till 2010, when he was designated as Director of the Surgical Department at the Misericordia Hospital, Grosseto, Italy. For over than seven years, he kept moving Prof. Giulianotti’s project forward, maintaining an impressive standard of quality in laparoscopic and robotic surgery with widespread consensus among the international surgical community. Moreover, Dr. Coratti strongly contributed to the development of a training program for a multidisciplinary use of the robotic platform. To date, several urological, gynecological and ORL procedures have been also performed. During the same years, he coordinated the reasearch and educational activities of the International School of Robotic Surgery, with several surgeons attending live-surgery as well as hands-on wet lab courses from all over the world. In May 2014 Dr. Coratti moved to Florence, where he is actually the Head Chief of the Oncological and Robotic Surgery Unit of the University Hospital Careggi. Nevertheless, he has maintaned his important role in directing and organizing the educational activities of the robotic school, together with his successor, Dr. Paolo Pietro Bianchi.
Dr. Paolo Pietro Bianchi has become the Head Chief of the Surgical Department at Misericordia Hospital – Grosseto – in October 2014. Dr. Bianchi has a longlasting experience in robotic and laparoscopic surgery. He graduated at the University of Milano in 1989 and developed his initial experience in Belgium at the European School of Laparoscopy and in Strasbourg, France, at the IRCAD. Dr. Bianchi worked at San Paolo Hospital in Milan from 1996 to 2004. In 2005, he was Chief of the Colorectal and Minimally-invasive surgery Unit at the Humanitas Hospital (Rozzano – Italy) and, in 2008, Director of the Minimally-Invasive Unit at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, founded by Prof. Umberto Veronesi. Dr. Bianchi’s main interest is digestive surgery and he is a world-renowned leader in the field of minimally-invasive and robotic colorectal surgery: he has performed, to date, more than 1000 laparoscopic and about 200 robotic procedures. He is Board Member of the European Society of endoscopic Surgery (EAES) and of the Clinical Robotic Surgery Association (CRSA), coordinator of the Tumor Board of the Italian Society of Oncologic Surgery, Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Frontiers in Oncology” and Editorial Board Member of the journal “E-Cancer Medical Science” from the European Institute of Oncology and Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI). During the last years, Dr. Bianchi has strongly contributed as teacher and proctor, together with Dr. Coratti, to meetings and courses endorsed by the International School of Robotic Surgery in Grosseto, which he is now directing and coordinating. This renowned and prestigious School, founded by Prof. Giulianotti, played a fundamental role in the candidature of Dr. Bianchi as Head Chief of the General Surgery Unit of the Misericordia Hospital, since it offers continous opportunities for cultural, professional and scientific exchanges with internationally recognized elite teams of robotic surgery from all over the world.
The international school of robotic surgery, hosted at the 'Misericordia' Hospital with the collaboration of ACOI (Associazione Chirurghi Ospedalieri Italiani), started its activities in 2004. The school of robotic surgery has a Da Vinci Surgical System entirely dedicated to simulation and training, which represent in Italy a unique set up of this type. Every year, numerous courses of robotic surgery are held at the 'Misericordia' Hospital, with attendance from all over the world. More the 650 surgeons from Italy, Europe, North and South America have attended a course at the Grosseto School of robotic surgery. The School of Robotic Surgery boasts an academic faculty made of surgeons from many different countries. The great variety of contributions of its faculty makes the robotic surgical school one of the most prestigious robotic teaching institution worldwide. In 2010, the 'Misericordia' Hosptial acquired the Da Vinci Si HD dual console system. This innovative Da Vinci system, beyond offering high definition resolution within its camera apparatus, has two parallel consoles, which are of great value for teaching purposes, being able to be operated by two surgeons simultaneously.
The University of Illinois at Chicago and the 'Misericordia' Hospital in Grosseto have set up collaboration with the aim of fostering the development of new applications of robotic surgery. Such collaboration entails the development of a network of internationally renowned robotic surgical centres in order to enhance research and development in the field of telemedicine and telesurgery. Prof Giulianotti will be a key figure in linking the North American and the Italian experience, as well as attracting collaborations from the most advanced robotic surgical centres worldwide.
After the excellent results achieved in the field of robotic general surgery, Dr Valerio Pizzuti has started in 2010 a program of robotic surgical urology in collaboration with the SIU, the Italian Society of Urology. Also the Otorhinolaryngology and the gynaecology departments, under the direction of Dr Boccuzzi and Dr Tamburro respectively, have started a program of robotic surgery in 2012, a further evidence of the great variety of surgical application that robotic surgery can offer.