Robot to remove cancer father's prostate in world-first surgery
12:30 GMT, 23 March 2012
Stuart Ellis, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, says he feels privileged to be the first to undergo the robotic surgery
A father-of-two is having pioneering Japanese ‘robot’ surgery in a bid to cure his prostate cancer.
Stuart Ellis is being operated on today by a surgeon using a tiny hand-held robot.
He is the first person in the world to have the device – likened to a bionic hand – used to remove his prostate.
Health chiefs have described it as a ‘revolutionary advancement in robotic technology’ and say it is set to bring a host of benefits to patients and doctors.
The procedure is being performed at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport by urology surgeon Neil Oakley.
It is more flexible than the human wrist, offering a more precise and quicker surgical procedure, with less trauma.
The instrument tip moves in multiple directions to give the surgeon better manoeuvrability and access to tricky areas, reducing the risk of mistakes.
Bosses are confident that it will also reduce recovery times because of the extra precision.
Stuart, 52, a structural engineer from Cheadle Hulme, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month.
He only discovered that he would be operated on by the robot earlier this week and expects to be out of hospital tomorrow.
Hand-held robot: The device offers surgeons greater flexibility
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.
'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.
'I was in shock when the surgeon said he would be using a robot but it sounds like a fantastic tool and I’m not apprehensive about it.
'I feel privileged to be the first patient and fingers crossed I will make a full recovery.'
The procedure will be carried out with a Kymerax robot made by Japanese company Terumo. It is much cheaper than traditional larger robots, which cost around 1.8m. The robot being used at Stepping Hill cost around 90,000 and has smaller running costs.
Full range of movement: The robot costs 90,000
Mr Oakley said his team were excited about using the robot and hoped patients across the country would benefit from the surgical advancement.
The procedure will be filmed for a training video.
He said: '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.'
The device has already been used in other procedures, mainly in gastrointestinal surgery and gynaecology investigations.
Stuart, a widower who has two children Sian, 20, and Ewan, 18, will have a radical prostatectomy and is not expected to need any more treatment, providing the cancer has not spread.
More than 30,000 men are diagnosed with the disease every year in Britain, making it the most common cancer in men.