Sheffield hospital’s £2m robot is ready to see patients

l'Surgeons Derek Rosario, Alan Gillespie, James Catto and David Yates with the new � 2.6 million robotic surgery machine at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
l'Surgeons Derek Rosario, Alan Gillespie, James Catto and David Yates with the new � 2.6 million robotic surgery machine at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
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Surgeons operating on hospital patients in Sheffield are getting a little assistance from a robot helper.

A state-of-the-art, £1.8 million robotic surgery system has been installed at the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

It will be used to treat people across the region undergoing treatment for conditions such as prostate and kidney cancer.

The device uses robotic arms with specialised instruments attached, which allow medics to perform complex operations.

Sheffield’s first procedure using the Da Vinci Si robot was set to take place today.

Kirsten Major, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust director of strategy and operations, said the launch was ‘fantastic news’.

She said: “Patients having robotic surgery can expect to recover a lot quicker and will hopefully have fewer complications and a good surgical outcome, so we are incredibly proud to be bringing this gold standard in patient care to the region.”

The system – the most advanced of its kind – allows trained surgeons to perform delicate operations from a robotic platform.

Medics use joysticks and foot pedals to work the machine from a console, where they can control a 3D high-definition camera and instruments attached to the arms.

The camera is 10 times more accurate than the human eye and the specially-designed ‘wristed’ instruments mean complex surgery can be carried out with precision through small incisions.

The machine even adjusts itself to compensate for the natural tremor in a human’s hands.

It has been installed in a new, purpose-built operating theatre at the Hallamshire, and will initially be used by urology surgeons.

Once the robot technology is established, the equipment will also be used for hysterectomies, bowel cancer surgery, removing head and neck tumours and treating severe gynaecological problems, such as endometriosis.

David Throssell, medical director at the hospitals trust, said: “The robot has an excellent safety record.

“It makes the most of the surgeon’s skills to perform delicate and complex operations.

“Surgeons using the equipment will also be given extensive training in its use.

“We hope Sheffield will be become a centre of robotic surgery training in the future.”

Ms Major said: “This is fantastic news for patients in South Yorkshire, as we can now offer world-class robotic surgery to treat prostate and kidney cancer.

“This represents a major investment in patient care and ensures that Sheffield remains as a leading centre of clinical care within the United Kingdom.”

There are currently 29 Da Vinci Si robots being used in the UK, with more planned in future.

The manufacturer named the system after the Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci, who created plans for a robot in the 1400s.