Robots enable hospital surgeons to carry out multi life-saving ops in a UK first

A specialist cancer hospital in Surrey - which treats patients from Horsham and Crawley - has become the first in the UK to carry out three simultaneous operations using robots.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 5:16 pm

Surgeons at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford carried out three major urological ops at the same time using surgical robots to enable vital cancer treatments to continue at speed while the nation recovers from the Covid pandemic.

The teams used the cutting-edge technology to perform two bladder removal operations and a rectal operation using the Da Vinci robots in neighbouring theares.

Three separate teams of nine surgical staff each worked side-by-side throughout the day to complete the operations.

Robotic surgery
Robotic surgery

A spokesman for the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust said:“These surgical robots are predominantly used for cancer surgeries and benefits for patients can include reduced trauma to the operating site, thanks to the miniature instruments of the robots, fewer complications, less blood loss and faster recovery times.

“The robots also allow surgeons to have a better view of the surgery, thanks to their high definition, three-dimensional cameras.”

As a specialist cancer centre, Royal Surrey is the only NHS Trust in England to benefit from having four of these machines on one site.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, teams completed around 600 robotic surgeries for patients with cancer and other serious conditions in 2020.

Clinical director of urology at the trust Matthew Perry led the three surgeries. He said: “The future has arrived.

“Computer assisted surgery will become the norm and we’re really proud to have the capacity to organise and perform this many life-saving minimally invasive surgeries for the benefit of our patients.

“We often schedule two robotic operations at the same time but decided to undertake this triple surgery when it became apparent that we had another priority patient who needed immediate surgery.

“We would urge anyone with potential cancer symptoms to continue to seek out clinical advice during the pandemic. We will continue to do our best for our patients.”

Peter Clark, 69, a retired teacher, is one of the patients who benefitted from the robotic surgery. He first developed symptoms of bladder cancer in July, noticing blood in his urine.

He contacted his GP and was referred to Royal Surrey where he received surgery two weeks later. He said: “I am a very good example of someone who has received brilliant cancer treatment in the midst of the pandemic.

“My surgeons decided I needed further surgery I am now about to have this operation.

“I had my prostate removed by these robots a few years ago and now I can’t even find the scars as they are so tiny. It’s much less invasive and the surgeons are able to be so precise it’s amazing.

“I would urge anyone that is experiencing symptoms like mine or just something out of the ordinary to speak to their GP. My experience shows that help is still there if you need it.”

Royal Surrey medical director Dr Marianne Illsley said: “As a specialist cancer centre, cancer treatment throughout the Covid pandemic has been a key focus. “Thanks to close partnership working across the NHS and private sector, and the sheer dedication and passion of our teams, we have continued running cancer surgery and treatment throughout, with only very minor disruption.

“We want to reassure patients – this achievement is just one of many innovative moments in this pandemic. We are still here for you and it is safe to see us when you need us.”