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New 'spider-like' Robot Heralds 'radical' Change in Operations at Nottingham Hospitals

'In 15 or 20 years it might be the mainstay of how you have your operation'.

 

New 'spider-like' Robot Heralds 'radical' Change in Operations at Nottingham Hospitals

Some cancer patients in Nottingham will be treated by a ‘spider-like’ robot controlled from afar by a surgeon.

The new machine – which costs around £1.5m - is being used for some bowel cancer surgeries and it should mean less time in hospital for Nottingham University Hospital patients.

It mimics the movements of the surgeon but is more steady and precise which means they can take out just the cancer and leave behind the healthy tissue.

This should also mean a better quality of life after the operation.

Alastair Simpson is one of the surgeons who is using the machine and believes it is part of a “radical” shift in medicine that will mean more robots being used.

He appeared on the recent Hospital documentary performing a “high-risk” operation on 70-year-old Margaret to remove a 6kg tumour from her stomach – although this couldn’t be done with the robot because the tumour was bigger than the small cut the robot makes.

He told the Post: “You have a console that you sit at which is a bit like a driver's seat, pedals you use with your feet and controls for your hands.

"The machine looks like a spider - a series of arms that go on to the patient and copies whatever the surgeon does.

“There is only one company that makes that at the moment. The disadvantage is it is expensive but in the next 12 to 20 months we will see more competition.

“All the time the robots are getting smaller and any problems are being fixed. In 15 or 20 years it might be the mainstay of how you have your operation with the NHS.

"They will be able to move around the patient's body. I think it is very exciting. The technology is very safe and reliable - it's not experimental.

"It is phenomenally different to 70 years ago [when the NHS started]. Then just surviving would have been a success but now we are talking about living a normal life after."

The robot’s “hands” can turn all the way round as it operates and make steadier and smaller movements than a human’s.

It also has a camera which builds a 3D image of the inside of the body for the surgeon to look at while they work which can zoom in much closer than the human eye, allowing the surgeon to look in more detail.

The advantages for the surgeon is that they can do this sat down – a blessing during surgery which can last five hours – and without getting fully scrubbed up.

It also does not require learning completely new surgical skills as it simply copies what you are doing and should only take around 30 operations to be competent.

The robot will now be a standard surgical technique and used on a weekly basis.

Although the surgeons are currently in the room while the operation happens it can be done from a distance meaning a specialist in London could perform the operation without them or the patient having to travel.

According to Mr Simpson NASA is testing the possibility of using such robots in space to operate on people with a surgeon on the ground controlling it.

It is already used in gynecology and urology but the trust believes it is the first time it has been used for bowel surgery at an NHS Trust.

 

Source: David Pittam, NottinghamshireLive

 

 

New 'spider-like' Robot Heralds 'radical' Change in Operations at Nottingham Hospitals

 
 
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The Operating Theatre Journal, OTJ, is published monthly and distributed to every hospital operating theatre department in the UK. The distribution includes both the National Health Service and the Private Sector.

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