New era as hand-held robot used on first UK patient

Hand-held device makes cost of innovative surgery more realistic for cash-strapped trusts

Surgeons at Stepping Hill Hospital are the first in the UK to operate using the Kymerax precision-drive articulating surgical system

A prostate cancer patient has become the first person in the UK to be treated using a revolutionary new hand-held robotic device in a move that signifies a step change for NHS services.

Stuart Ellis, a 52-year-old structural engineer from Stockport was treated by surgeons at Stepping Hill Hospital using the Kymerax precision-drive articulating surgical system developed by the Japanese Terumo corporation.

The equipment is expected to improve surgery outcomes across the country, offering more-precise and speedier procedures and causing less trauma to patients.

Up until now many specialist laparascopic, or keyhole, surgery devices have proved large and expensive, often costing up to £2m and with high running costs. However, the arrival of motorised, hand-held technologies is bringing these prices down by up to 95% in some cases. This is expected to make them much more popular with NHS procurers and enable their widespread use.

Urology surgeon, Neil Oakley, hopes the new device will make robotic surgery available more widely in the NHS

The Kymerax system allow surgeons to combine the feel of traditional surgery with the greater accuracy and dexterity of articulating instruments and provides a greater flexibility that the human wrist, allowing for precise stitching for better recovery. The instrument tip also moves in multiple directions to operate in areas that are difficult to approach, giving the surgeon better manoeuvrability and less fatigue than rigid laparascopic instruments.

Ellis underwent a prostatectomy – the removal of the prostate – on Friday after being diagnosed with cancer last month

The cost is an extremely important factor and will hopefully mean that patients across the country can benefit from this surgical advancement

He said: “Being told you’ve been diagnosed with cancer is not a pleasant experience, but it’s good to know something positive for other people is coming out of this. This illness seems to have affected so many close family and friends and it’s great to feel involved in the fightback, in however small a way. If this means other cancer patients in the future can get quicker treatment with the most-advanced technology, then I’m proud to be part of it.”

He was operated on by urology surgeon, Neil Oakley, who told BBH : “Our team is very excited about this latest technology and it’s an honour to be the first in Britain to carry out a prostatectomy using this device. It’s the fusion of maintaining the feel and touch during an operation with the greater robotic articulation that makes it so special. This robot can do things not physically possibly with a human wrist and gives you the best of both worlds.”

Commenting on the impact hand-held robotic devices could have on the NHS in the future, he added: “The cost is an extremely important factor and will hopefully mean that patients across the country can benefit from this surgical advancement.”

Companies