Robotic surgery boost for Bradford Teaching Hospitals' cancer patients
Consultant urological surgeon, Sanjai Addla, with the new £2m Da Vinci surgical robot at the Bradford Royal Infirmary
Bradford Teaching Hospitals have become only the second centre in the region to obtain a £2m revolutionary "surgical robot" to perform critical operations on its patients.
The Da Vinci robot enables advanced keyhole procedures which help surgeons eliminate potential human problems, such as hand tremor, as the massive bulk of the robot allows its arms to manoeuvre better than the human hand in open surgery.
It also ensures that patients will experience better results, less pain and their recovery times from major procedures will be faster when compared to more traditional forms of surgery.
Consultant urological surgeon, Sanjai Addla, is one of the Foundation Trust’s surgeons who have been formally trained to use robotic surgery at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. The machine will initially be used to perform robotic prostatectomies which will enable men to resume normal lives despite having had prostate cancer.
Mr Addla said; “This is a major and exciting advancement for urological cancer surgery here in Bradford. The city has a high rate of late presentation for prostate cancer – which is largely due to widespread ignorance about the disease and the availability of screening among our male population – so this machine will enable the Foundation Trust to be one of the few centres in the north of England to offer this gold standard treatment for prostate cancer patients.
”Robotic surgery has huge benefits for the NHS, its patients and the wider community as surgery is faster, simpler, more cost effective, more precise, cuts down on bed blocking and for patients, recovery times are literally halved when compared to more traditional forms of open or laparoscopic surgery. Patients will be back on their feet more quickly and back at work sooner after major procedures.”
The new robot – which was partly funded by a generous £200,000 donation from the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust - allows for high precision surgery where the patient is ‘docked’ within the machine. The operation is then carried out with the help of four robotic arms that are inserted into the patient’s body through tiny incisions.
While the robot will only be used for urological cancer treatment initially, elsewhere the machine is used for other types of surgery, including colorectal, heart and gynaecological operations and there are plans to expand its use to other specialties in Bradford in the future.
During a procedure, Mr Addla sits at the robot’s computer console and performs the operation by looking through a large microscope which offers a clear 3D close up view of the patient’s organs, nerves, blood vessels and muscles. In theory, he doesn’t even have to be in the same room.
Mr Addla’s colleague, consultant urological surgeon Narasimhan Ragavan, who is also trained in using the Da Vinci robot and will perform procedures using this new technology, added: “This type of futuristic surgery is really the state of things to come for the NHS and is in contrast to the days when, as trainees, we largely focused on open operations where you had to make large cuts to the body to get close to major organs.
“Laparoscopic surgery was a step up from open surgery but we still are only able to have two degrees of movement in both our hands so it is akin to operating with chops sticks.
"Cut to today, where because of advances in surgery and technology with the Da Vinci robot we now have seven degrees of movement as the robot is attached to our wrist by wearing a glove and the machine mimics the movement of the wrist so you can have more flexible, complete movement with the instruments coupled with a vision that is better than normal as the 3D vision is magnified eight times. You also don’t necessarily even have to be in the same room as the patient.”
The Bradford surgeons also point to evidence which says that robotic surgery “helps to reduce wound infections and hernias after surgery to a point where they are very, very rare.”
There are currently 28 robots being used in hospitals across the UK and Bradford, along with Leeds, are the only two centres offering this advanced treatment in the whole of Yorkshire and the northeast of England. The majority of robots are based in or around London.
Russ Piper, chief executive of Sovereign Health Care and trustee of the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust, who supplied the £200,000 donation towards the Foundation Trust’s initial purchase of the robot added: “Supporting local health related causes is of extreme importance to the Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust, particularly within the Bradford area. Not only is this where we are based, but where the majority of our customers come from, and they are the ones who will benefit from this fantastic advancement in health care provision.
“We are thrilled that our donation has been able to help fund such a specialist piece of technology and it is a fine example of the kind of causes we are committed to. It is a real feat for Bradford Royal Infirmary to be one of only a selection of hospitals in the UK with such advanced treatment and we are delighted that we were able to provide some assistance in allowing this to come to fruition.”
The first operations took place successfully in Bradford at the end of July and medical director, Professor Clive Kay, said the purchase of such equipment would be "hugely beneficial" for patient outcomes and recovery following major operations as the small incisions made by the robot also help to minimise blood loss.
He added: "The use of the robot in modern surgery in Bradford is a huge advancement from what we have been doing in the past.
"What you encounter with the robot is more accurate precision, faster procedures, where the patient will suffer less pain and recover more quickly. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the future of surgery within the NHS."
Alongside Mr Addla and Mr Ragavan, the hospital’s Da Vinci surgical team consists of consultant anaesthetist Remi Akerele, senior theatre nurse Wendy Torres and theatre scrub nurse Myrna Alegria, all of whom received training on the Da Vinci robot in May.
The Foundation Trust has also established a charity to help with the robot’s £140,000 per year running costs as they hope the hi-tech equipment will be supported by private donations.
The benefits of da Vinci robotic surgery in urological cancer cases:
• Excellent cancer control
• Improved and early return of sexual function
• Improved and early return of continence
• Improved results over traditional treatments
• Minimally invasive surgery
Additional benefits may include:
• Significantly less pain
• Less blood loss
• Less anaesthesia
• Less scarring
• Less risk of infection
• Reduced trauma to the body
• Faster recovery and return to normal activities
• Shorter stay in hospital