Hospital robot trebles number of prostate operations at Bradford hospital

SUCCESS: The Foundation Trust’s lead cancer clinician, surgeon Sanjai Addla, with the Da Vinci Robot

PROSTATE operations have trebled since Bradford Royal Infirmary took delivery of a £2 million surgical robot.

The Da Vinci Robot, with its inbuilt 3D camera, has meant patients only need to stay overnight after surgery rather than spend five or six days recovering on a ward - and they can get back to work in around four weeks rather than three months.

Yesterday, surgeons from across northern England gathered at the BRI to watch internationally-renowned Belgium Professor Alex Mottrie remove a patient's prostate using the innovative robotic technique.

Since the robot’s arrival in Bradford in August 2012, prostate operations have increased from 44 to 150 a year. The BRI is also the only centre in Yorkshire to offer the revolutionary procedure to cancer patients needing kidney tumours removed.

With robot-assisted surgery, the surgeon sits at a nearby console with a 3D view of the area being operated on. computer technology translates their hand movements into precise manoeuvres of the instruments and, reassuringly, if the surgeon's hand develops a tremor, the computer system knows to ignore it.

The technology also means surgeons can use finer instruments, reducing damage to the body which reduces blood loss and the need for blood transfusions - meaning patients can recover more quickly. Because the robot is so precise it also halves the need for follow-up radiotherapy.

The live surgery demonstration marked the inaugural meeting of the North of England Robotic Urological Surgeons. They will meet twice a year to share good practice and work together on research and innovation.

The BRI was only the second centre in the region to obtain the Da Vinci surgical robot to perform critical operations on patients with prostate cancer.

The Foundation Trust’s lead cancer clinician, surgeon Sanjai Addla, said it had been "a phenomenal success".

"We’ve also extended the machine's use to bladder and kidney cancer patients and soon other surgical specialities are planning to use the machine – the Da Vinci really is the surgery of the future," he said.

"I put the Da Vinci robot's success in local awareness of prostate cancer down to its fantastic results regarding patient recovery times."

Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust donated £200,000 towards the machine but surgeons' training on it is continuous, with a Urology Robotic Fund specially set up by the Hospitals Foundation Trust to pay for it.