Hospital team carries out first robotic colorectal cancer surgery in region’s cancer network

Colorectal cancer team. Photo: NNUH

Colorectal cancer team. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

A team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has become the first in the region's cancer network to carry out robotic colorectal surgery.

Irshad Shaikh. Photo: NNUH

Irshad Shaikh. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

Last month, consultant colorectal surgeon Irshad Shaikh led the team on the first surgery of its kind at the trust.

The surgery was carried out in collaboration with colorectal surgeon Professor Amjad Parvaiz, one of the country's leading robotic surgeons.

The team has carried out more than 1,100 colorectal operations over the past five years – among the highest of any trust in the country.

And Mr Shaikh said robotic surgery offered a minimal invasive approach and dissection was more precise because the method offered a three-dimensional view and full freedom of movement.

He said: 'The robot was first used by the urology team at NNUH and, building on their excellent work, we now have the option of using it for colorectal cancer removal.'

Surgery for such cancer removal can be carried out via a number of ways:

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• Open, where the surgeon makes a cut in the abdomen;

• Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery;

• Or robotic surgery which may improve functional outcomes for patients as it allows better dissection around pelvic nerves needed for bowel, bladder and sexual function.

Mr Shaikh said: 'The rectum is a special organ because it lives in pelvis.

'It can be a very challenging surgery and many centres perform the rectal surgery via the traditional open way but it is fantastic that we now have the robotic option as well as the laparoscopic approach.

'All colorectal surgery can be performed with a robot but we feel it's particularly beneficial for rectal surgery.

'Being able to perform such procedures is a real team effort.

'And I would like to thank all those involved in making this possible, including: the colorectal surgical team, colorectal nurses, anaesthetic team, theatre team, secretarial staff, oncologists, radiologists, physiotherapists and Dilham ward.

'We look forward to developing our robotic colorectal service with the benefits it will bring for our patients.'