WATCH: Glimpse into the future of surgery as hospital celebrates three years of using £1m robot in theatre
It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.
But robotic surgery is happening every day at Norfolk’s busiest hospital, with precision skill top of the pecking order.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) gave people the chance to try out the £1m robot, which is used to transform the lives of cancer patients, at an event on Tuesday to mark three years of robotic keyhole surgery at the trust.
The state-of-the-art machine, operated by a surgeon, carried out the first radical prostatectomy in Norwich on February 18, 2016 to remove the prostate of a cancer patient. But now consultant surgeon in urology Mark Rochester said the machine is in constant use, with colleagues having to use it on a Saturday to get a slot.
Any cancer patient opting for prostate removal is treated using the robot and are usually discharged the day after surgery. Eight surgeons have now been trained to use the robot, with surgery usually taking four to six hours. NNUH was the seventh fastest hospital in the UK to complete 750 cases.
Mr Rochester said: “We are a busy hospital with a high volume of cases. To reach 750 cases in three years is very quick and is a symbol of our highly developed level of expertise in robotic surgery.
“Robotic surgery has helped us improve our outcomes and provide a better experience for patients. As patients come back to clinic for review we get feedback that their continence and erectile function are better than with previous surgical techniques. Patients are also able to get back to their normal day to day lives more quickly too.
“The dexterity of the instruments is unparalleled and more than 95pc of patients are able to go home the next day.”
The robotic arms of the machine are moved using controls mimicking the movement of the wrist, and the pinching of fingers controls pincers used inside the body. And the surgeon can see what is going on through a 3D magnified view.
Mr Rochester said this intuitive system meant the surgeon had as much control - if not more - as carrying out the procedure with their own hands.
The machine has also been used carried out bladder removal (cystectomy), partial kidney and kidney removal (nephrectomy) and colorectal surgery