An open day held at Derriford Hospital, showcasing the work of a new robot used to treat radical prostatectomies, was a resounding success.
On Wednesday 24 June, around 100 people, including patients, carers, fundraisers and members of the public, came along to the level 3 concourse of the Terence Lewis Building to see for themselves how the da Vinci robot works.
Consultant Urologists at Derriford Hospital, Mr Ali Ramsden and Mr Paul Hunter-Campbell, Core Trainee in Urology, Dr Patrick Gordon and Surgical Care Practitioner, Sister Jayne Buckley were on hand to demonstrate and talk-through some of the intricate tasks the robot is able to perform.
Visitors to the event were able to watch the surgical team using the robot to sew a miniature lion toy, building Lego and peeling an orange and were even able to test their own skills on the robot’s training console.
The robot, which is a dual-console model, has been in operation at the hospital since April 2015 and so far has been used around 20 times. It is expected that 150 patients will be treated each year using robot-assisted surgery.
Two of today’s open day visitors, Peter Smithers and Raymond Weldrick, have been operated on with the robot.
Peter said: “I was excited to be one of the first patients operated on by the new robot. After researching about the technique online, I learned how it improved recovery times but I never realised, and I really am amazed about, how fast I have come around. It has only been four weeks since my operation and I feel that I can do most things now that I could do before. I am feeling really good within myself.”
Raymond added: “When I was first told about being operated on by a robot, I was apprehensive and quite nervous about it. I was the second patient to be operated on by the robot at Derriford Hospital and eight weeks on, I can honestly say that I was treated fantastically and I am almost back to my normal health, playing golf, riding a bike and much more.
“I was surprised about how quickly I bounced back and this definitely is the future. I hope to soon be given the all clear after ten weeks.”
Image of visitors to the robot open dayUsing the robot, small incisions are made and used to insert miniaturised wristed instruments and a high-definition 3D camera. With the surgeon seated at the console, they can view a magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the surgical site inside the body. At the same time, the robot translates the surgeon’s hand movements into precise micro-movements of the da Vinci instruments.
Mr Ali Ramsden, Consultant Urologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This robot finally allows patients in Cornwall and Devon to have equal access to the gold standard treatment for prostate cancer. Patients from Cornwall have previously had to travel to Bristol for this treatment. Having the dual console, which is not standard in all machines, will set us up to be a beacon centre for robotic training.”
Mr Paul Hunter-Campbell, Consultant Urologist and Lead for Urology Cancer at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “The purchase of the da Vinci robot fits as part of our strategy to be a Specialised Urology Cancer Centre. Other specialities, for example, gynaecology and colorectal, have procedures that could be performed on the robot. These are not currently commissioned but they could, in time, be considered for research or by the commissioners.”
The da Vinci robot cost around £1million, of which £125,000 was kindly donated by The Chestnut Appeal.
Lesley-Ann Simpson, Charity Director for the Chestnut Appeal said: “This is a really proud moment for the Chestnut Appeal and Derriford Hospital. It definitely has strengthened the partnership with the Trust and I hope this will continue for years to come.
“We are all very happy with the final results and this open day has brought the robot to life, allowing members of staff and the public to see the advancements in technology.
“The Chestnut Appeal has donated £125,000 towards the robot and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the donations from members of the public, so I would personally like to say thank you to everyone that has been involved.”
More photos of the open day can be found here.