‘Robot surgery is NHS future’ Royal London Hospital declares after 200 precision operations
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A robot that has helped surgeons carry out 230 operations at the Royal London in 12 months has had its first birthday public debut with some of the patients it has treated.
Stalls and networking with surgeons were laid on in the hospital last night where people were invited to try their ‘robotic hand’ at removing bones from a dummy without setting of the alarm or flashing light controlling, the robot’s tentacles and 3D cameras.
The £2.2 million da Vinci device, installed a year ago with funds raised by Bart’s Health charity, has more flexibility than a surgeon’s bare hands.
Its arms rotate 360 degrees in seven dimensions and its live 3D camera imaging gives the human surgeon controlling it 100 per cent accuracy.
Patients lose less blood and have far smaller incisions at 8mm instead of 30mm, reducing the risk of infection from open wounds, and have faster recovery.
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Consultant gynaecological oncologist Elly Brockbank carried out her first operation with the robot last November.
“This is the future of surgery,” Elly told the East London Advertiser.
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“The robot gives me 3D vision to move instruments in and out, left and right, rotate 360 degrees with far greater dexterity.
“I’ve no doubt that all NHS hospitals will be using some form of robotic surgery in 10 years’ time. I’m not putting myself out of a job—the robot is assisting me to do the surgery with greater precision.”
Patients undergo less-invasive surgery and go home quicker with less risk of complications. They can often be discharged the next day after an operation to remove lung cancer.
The hospital has carried out 239 robotic procedures in the first 12 months. It aims to use the robot on 500 patients every year by 2020.
Anne Bishop, 53, was operated on in June with the robot to remove colon cancer, which had returned after 30 years.
“This time I’ve recovered more quickly thanks to the robot,” she said. “The less invasive approach is better for your body and mind and you make a really good recovery. Even my GP is staggered at how well I look.”
Surgeons like Elly Brockbank learned to ‘robot’ after 32 hours practice on a dummy to get the technique. Her first ‘live’ operation was to remove a patient’s ovaries which took just 40 minutes, instead of an hour.
She brought her two young children into work one day to meet the robot that mummy uses to make people better.
But it hasn’t influenced them to be surgeons when they grow up—her son wants to be a footballer!