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Live demonstration of surgical robot as local hospitals move closer to revolutionising surgery

Health professionals at Doncaster Royal Infirmary had the opportunity to see the Intuitive da Vinci Xi Surgical robot in January, following the announcement that Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Charity will fund the £3.6 million device to deliver cancer surgery for local patients.

Once in place later this year, it is envisaged that the investment in this state-of-the-art tech will transform the way DBTH performs cancer surgery, specifically for colorectal cancer patients in the first instance.

Colorectal surgery is the field of medicine that deals with repairing damage caused by colorectal diseases. Surgery can be necessary due to a variety of health problems along the gastrointestinal tract, in your rectum, anus and colon.

On Monday 29 January, colleagues at Doncaster Royal Infirmary were able to see the robot in action, as well as use the surgical robot as part of a simulated procedure which asked the operator to manipulate and place coloured bands.

The device works in two parts – the first a specialised console equipped with a 3D display, similar to a virtual reality headset, whilst the second piece contains the surgical arms and 3D camera.

Operated by a specially trained surgeon, the robot will be used as part of laparoscopic (also known as ‘keyhole’) or open surgeries. As part of the minimal invasive procedure, the camera and robotic arms are inserted within the patient. These instruments are then operated by the trained surgeon using a set of advanced instruments which are manipulated using your index finger and thumb.

Miss Antonia Durham-Hall, Colorectal Consultant Surgeon and Lead Clinician for Gastrointestinal Surgery at DBTH, said: “This investment heralds a new era in colorectal cancer surgery for our patients. As we advance in early cancer detection, it’s imperative that our treatment methods evolve in tandem, ensuring improved post-surgical outcomes and enhanced quality of life.

“The introduction of robotic surgery promises faster recovery times, reduced hospital stays, and diminished likelihood of resorting to open surgery. Additionally, certain tumour types may see improved cancer outcomes, while patients undergoing rectal surgery may experience fewer complications related to urinary and sexual function, alongside a reduced need for long-term stoma.

“I’m extremely pleased that we will be able to offer this to our patients in the near future and thankful to the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Charity, and its kind supporters, for such a significant investment which will transform the lives of so many people.”

Colorectal patients are set to benefit from robotic cancer surgery as soon as the robot arrives early next financial year, as a member of the DBTH colorectal team is already a trained autonomous robotic surgeon. Three additional colorectal surgeons are due to begin training next month, and all four colorectal surgeons will be able to operate independently on the machine within six months.

Suzy Brain England OBE, Chair of Board at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, said: ”As Chair of the Board, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Charity and our incredible local supporters and fundraisers, as well as the Fred and Ann Green Legacy.

“Your unwavering dedication and generosity have played a pivotal role in funding transformative innovations like the surgical robot, which significantly enhance the quality of care we provide to our local community.

“Your contributions underscore the profound impact that every penny donated can make, enabling us to surpass conventional funding limitations and truly go above and beyond in serving the needs of our patients. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to improving healthcare outcomes for all.”

If you have any other questions about how you can get involved with supporting DBTH, you can contact the Fundraising and Communications Team on 01302 644244 ordbth.charity@nhs.net.

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