Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Robotic surgery equipment helps cancer patients to recover more quickly

PATIENTS with cancer can recover much more quickly after surgeons use pioneering robotic equipment to treat certain conditions for the first time.

A surgeon based at Southend Hospital, run by Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, was the first in the east of England to carry out a complex operation to remove lymph nodes in the abdomen (around the tummy area) using a robotic device, shaped like an arm.

The robotic platform has a 360-degree range of motion and is controlled by the surgeon, who can precisely cut out cancers and dissect tissues in the body. 

This keyhole approach means patients can recover from the operation much more quickly than with traditional, open surgery, as Consultant Urologist and Robotic Surgeon Matteo Massanova explains:

“Traditionally we would have performed open surgery to remove these lymph nodes, where an incision is made from the top of your tummy to below the belly button. The robotic platform is a fantastic tool because we can now carry out a minimally invasive procedure, with only a few incisions that are much smaller.

“This means that our patients can recover much more quickly and get back to normal activities sooner. This is a complex and rare procedure, and so we expect to treat between five and ten patients each year who no longer have to travel to other centres, such as in London.” 

The device is regularly used by urologists in operations for prostate, bladder, or kidney cancer, but now patients with other forms of cancer can benefit from the technology.

Mr Massanova performed the first operation on Beryl Waxler, 79, from Southend, who could be sent home the following day, and just three weeks later was already back to daily activities.

Beryl said: “I’ve had open surgery before, but this time I got better much more quickly thanks to the keyhole approach. I wasn’t in any pain afterwards, and I was soon back on my feet.

“I’m now regularly out for walks with my husband, while I visit the gym as well as going swimming. I’ve even ordered an exercise bike so I can keep up my fitness at home, and have thought about going to London for the King’s Coronation.”

With operations taking place at Southend Hospital, the device will benefit patients across mid and south Essex, and plans are being developed at the hospital to use the robotic device in more types of surgery. 

This will provide further cutting-edge training and development opportunities for the surgical staff based at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust. 

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