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World-first approach to operation on cancer patient takes place at Norfolk hospital

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:33 01 September 2020

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Sandeep Kapur, Anais Rosich-Medina, Richard Haywood,  Omar Al Kadhi and Irshad Shaikh who worked on the world first operation using robotic technology and three surgical teams working similtaneously. Picture: NNUH

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Sandeep Kapur, Anais Rosich-Medina, Richard Haywood, Omar Al Kadhi and Irshad Shaikh who worked on the world first operation using robotic technology and three surgical teams working similtaneously. Picture: NNUH

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A complex operation carried out by three surgical teams at Norwich hospital at the same time is believed to be a world first, after the use of robots in the procedure halved the recovery time.

Patient Peter Fabb, 53, underwent the operation. Picture: NNUHPatient Peter Fabb, 53, underwent the operation. Picture: NNUH

Surgeons from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) bowel cancer, urology and plastic teams joined forces to perform the complex pelvic exenteration operation on Peter Fabb, from Hevingham, who was diagnosed with colon cancer before Easter.

The approach for all the teams to work at the same time on such a complex operation is thought to be a world first.

In the operating theatre, the plastic surgeons began preparing for reconstructive surgery while the colorectal and urology teams were removing the cancer using the hospital’s da Vinci surgical system.

The surgery involved removing Mr Fabb’s bladder, lower bowel, anal canal, kidney tubes and prostate. Once removed, reconstructive work began.

Inside the theatre as the surgical teams worked similtaneously during the procedure. Picture: NNUHInside the theatre as the surgical teams worked similtaneously during the procedure. Picture: NNUH

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The surgery would usually result in a patient staying in hospital for at least two weeks, including a stay in intensive care, but Mr Fabb was able to return home after seven days.

The 53-year-old began chemo-radiotherapy at Easter – the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I wasn’t really that worried about Covid as the cancer was a bigger challenge. After chemotherapy, I had my operation and was left with just a few small key hole type incisions on the abdomen despite the extensive nature of the surgery.”

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital nursing team involved in the procedure. Picture: NNUHNorfolk and Norwich University Hospital nursing team involved in the procedure. Picture: NNUH

Mr Fabb said his latest test results have shown all the cancer has been completely removed.

The NNUH team that carried out the surgery included consultant surgeons Irshad Shaikh, Sandeep Kapur, Omar Al Kadhi, Ms Anais Rosich-Medina and Richard Haywood and anaesthetist Dr Bruce Fleming and nursing staff, who have all been praised for the procedure.

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Mr Shaikh said: “Peter has already made significant progress since his operation. The robotic minimally invasive approach helped Peter to recover faster.

“Using this minimally invasive approach with the robotic platform, it was possible to minimise the impact of surgery and reduce the hospital stay to seven days and without the need for an intensive care stay or a large incision. The robotic platform gives 3D magnified views and helps in performing precision surgery.”

Professor Erika Denton, NNUH medical director, said: “This is extraordinary progress for our patients and I am extremely proud of Irshad and his team who continue to strive for excellence in patient outcomes and in ensuring NNUH is at the forefront of use of this technology.”


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