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NEW ERA: Robot-assistants introduced at Hemel Hempstead Hospital

 Published on: 31st October 2022   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

A new surgical era is underway at Hemel Hempstead Hospital (HHH), which will see robots brought into the operating theatre to assist surgeons.

West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital as well as HHH, is the first NHS trust in the country to install two Versius robots to assist with surgical operations.

Robotic-assisted surgery is said to bring major benefits to patients, including reduced post-operative pain and a faster recovery, which leads to earlier discharge from hospital.

The robots have four mechanical arms with a surgical instrument attached to each, and are controlled by a surgeon seated at a computer console near the operating table. The console gives the surgeon a magnified, high-definition, 3D view of the operating area, so they can perform complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than with conventional techniques.

Mr Vanash Patel, consultant colorectal surgeon, is the driving force and vision behind the robotic programme.

He said: “This is an incredible moment for everyone involved here at West Herts. This is the beginning of a new era for our surgeons, our trust, and most importantly our patients. With these state-of-the-art robots, we can offer our patients the very best care.

“The patient experiences less pain because the robot creates a virtual pivot point around the small incisions through which the robotic instruments are inserted. This minimises trauma and puts less strain on the patient. The patient needs fewer opioid painkillers, which leads to a faster recovery.”

Christopher McAuley, the first patient to receive robotic-assisted surgery at West Herts, underwent a right hemicolectomy – a procedure to remove the right side of the colon and attach the small intestine to the remaining portion of the colon – for bowel cancer.

Christopher said: “I was fascinated by the idea of robotic surgery and was very much looking forward to the operation. I can’t believe how well it all went. It was sensational. I can’t thank Mr Patel enough, and the nurses who took care of me were brilliant.”


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