Thousands of cancer patients across Wales could soon be operated on by robotic arms controlled by surgeons. Previously patients living in north Wales had to travel to England for robotic-assisted surgery. From June, the arms will be used to perform some surgeries at Ysbyty Gwynedd. Doctors said the technology would improve accuracy and help patients recover more quickly. The first machine at the Bangor hospital comes as part of plans to establish an All-Wales Robotic Assisted Surgery Network, with more of the technology expected to be rolled-out across the country. The robotic arms will be used by the NHS to perform procedures for some prostate and gynaecological cancers and some procedures on the digestive system, kidneys and bladder.
The jointed arms with surgical instruments at the end are used to preform keyhole surgery, and are moved by a surgeon who controls them via a computer. Cameras on the arms let the surgeons see what is happening, and they can zoon in and magnify the area being operated on. Consultant Urologist Mohamed Abdulmajed, who was one of the first medics to be trained using the robot at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said there were many benefits to using the technology. “One of the first operations we’ll be doing with the robotic arms is men’s prostate cancer surgery,” he said. “We can be sure of a high level of accuracy, and avoid the nerves which control a man’s sexual function, and reduce the risk of someone being made incontinent by the surgery. “Overall, keyhole surgery with a robotic arm has many advantages for patients compared to open surgery. “The wounds are smaller, there’s less blood loss, and that in turn means a shorter hospital stay and an earlier recovery allowing a person to return to work sooner”.
But he reassured patients that while the technology was being used, the operation was still being carried out by a surgeon, who were in control and made the decisions. A second robot is set to be placed at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – adding to a similar one already at the health board, which has been used for surgery on hard to reach head and neck cancers. The Welsh government said other health boards across Wales were expected to follow in getting the equipment, which would provide less invasive surgery for thousands of cancer patients across the country. NHS Wales managers said that this area of technology is developing fast. They will be working with medical technology company, CMR Surgical, which builds the robot arms, to do further research into how they can be used in the future. Jared Torkington, who is heading up Wales’ robotic surgery programme, believes the next 20 years will see more radical change. “We can look forward to a future where healthcare is even less invasive and better able to fit the individual needs of patients,” he said.
Source: BBC NEWS