PATIENTS at Sunderland Royal Hospital are now being operated on robotically, thanks to a new piece of equipment.
The £1.5million da Vinci surgical robot has been hailed as revolutionary by top surgeons in the city after operating on several patients in the past few weeks.
Bosses at City Hospitals Sunderland say the new machine will help reduce recovery periods for patients undergoing prostate, kidney and bowel operations, among others, as well as cut waiting times.
Damian Greene, clinical director for urology at the hospital, said: “For conditions such as prostate cancer, the robot provides a new dawn for patients, who are already being treated in the US on a day-case basis, with the first similar operation having been undertaken in this country only last month.
“As little as 10 years ago, a radical prostatectomy was a major surgical procedure, with significant side-effects, lengthy hospital stays and many weeks of recovery and rehabilitation time.”
The system is made up of robotic arms which the surgeon is able to control using a console.
The surgeon sees 3D images of the patient via cameras placed on the machine and controls the robot’s arms to carry out the operation.
“The robot enables surgeons to operate laparascopically under conditions of pinpoint accuracy that have never before been experienced,” added Professor Greene.
“It will help us treat more patients more precisely and more quickly because surgery and recovery time is much faster.
“Conditions such as prostate cancer, which previously involved many months of recovery after surgery, and some potentially unpleasant side-effects, could well, fairly soon, be treated as routine day cases, with the patient back home the same day and back to work much sooner than before.
“It is a life-changing process for us and for our patients.
“This is going to change the whole face of surgery. It is the future.
“It’s a big investment by the trust, and I think it shows intent in what kind of hospital they want the Royal to be.
“They want it to be on the same level as the top hospitals internationally, not just nationally.”
Chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Ken Bremner, said: “As a board, we wanted to continue developing City Hospitals as a world-class centre for surgery.
“Da Vinci technology was developed in the USA by NASA for space and military uses, so the technology is literally the best you can get anywhere on the planet.
“It is the future for highly skilled surgical teams and, most importantly, for local people.”