Robot assists with cancer operations at Lister Hospital

The launch of the da Vinci Xi robot at Lister Hospital in Stevenage

The launch of the da Vinci Xi robot at Lister Hospital in Stevenage - Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust

A robot is already making a difference to patients undergoing cancer treatment at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

The da Vinci Xi surgical system, which improves the efficiency of surgery, is being used on cancer operations at the hospital.

The first patient who underwent surgery using the new technology had prostate cancer and was considered high risk, however they were home less than 24 hours after their successful surgery.

Since the launch two months ago, over 70 patients have now had successful operations.

Nikhil Vasdev, the associate medical director for cancer services at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, carried out the first operation. He said that one benefit of robotic surgery is “patients have less pain and recover more quickly".

Nikhil Vasdev and Arvind Nayak at the controls of the da Vinci Xi robot

Nikhil Vasdev and Arvind Nayak at the controls of the da Vinci Xi robot - Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust


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He continued: “Blood loss for patients is lower with the robot and the length of stay in hospital is shorter, as they go home within 24 hours rather than three to five days. And for the removal of prostate cancer, for example, the precision gained from using this robot means the chances of cancer being left behind is reduced.”

The trust – which also runs Hertford County Hospital, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood and the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City – was an early adopter of robotic surgery, beginning with the urology department in 2008.

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Since then, the trust has invested in upgrades to the technology such as dual consoles so that trainees can see every step the operating surgeon takes – training robotic surgeons of the future.

Urology surgeons with the da Vinci Xi robot

Urology surgeons with the da Vinci Xi robot at Lister Hospital - Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust

The robotics programme expanded into the trust’s general surgical department in 2019 for operations on patients with colon or rectal cancer and the gynaecology department followed in December 2020. A further expansion to include ear, nose and throat surgery is expected later this year.

Richard Hammond – the trust’s managing director for planned care – has been involved in this expansion and the acquisition of the da Vinci Xi surgical system, meaning there are now two robots in use.

He said: “We are proud to be able to use such cutting-edge technology which ensures our patients receive the highest quality of care.

"More efficient operations and quicker recovery times also means we can treat patients sooner.”

Richard Hammond and Nikhil Vasdev with the new da Vinci Xi robot at Lister Hospital

Richard Hammond and Nikhil Vasdev with the new da Vinci Xi robot at Lister Hospital - Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust


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