16/08/2023 | Press releases

Surgical robot benefits patients with prostate cancer

Patients diagnosed with prostate cancer are now able to have robotic surgery at Colchester Hospital as part of their treatment.

The DaVinci robot is the latest technology used by surgeons to perform operations. The robot is less invasive and means operations can be performed with greater precision, helping patients recover quicker.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has invested in the robots to treat patients for gynaecological, colorectal and now urological surgery and currently has four of the DaVinci robots treating patients across Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals.

Close up of man in sunglasses looking at camera
Allan Brimfield

Allan Brimfield, 68, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after Easter last year. Following treatment involving hormone therapy and radiotherapy he opted to have the tumour removed, and was operated on near the end of last year.

The ex-engineer and father-of-three said his consultant Mr Rajiv Pillai explained the procedure and that he would use a robot to operate.

Allan, who lives in St Osyth, said: “I was fascinated by it all. I had no worries about a robot being used – everyone is trained and I thought what a brilliant piece of kit to have used on me.

“I had a hernia and he corrected that at the same time too. I cannot praise the team enough.

“I wasn’t expecting such a quick recovery and am so pleased. I’ve been doing my exercises and taking my Westie dog for walks. I feel great.”

Screen showing pink screen with operation and surgeon sitting at separate desk looking down into a machine
Mr Rajiv Pillai at the DaVinci robot’s console which is separate to the robot attached to the patient

The robot is in two sections – a console and operating robot. The surgeon sits at the console in the same room as the patient and looks through an eye piece while controlling the machine’s four arms. This allows them to move tissue or make cuts remotely with incredible accuracy.

Operating theatre with white machines
The robot is positioned over the patient and then the arms inserted into the area being operated on. The surgeon sits on a separate console (to the right of the photo)

The Trust is working in collaboration with Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust to treat cancer patients from across the area.

Surgeon in mask looking down at computer
Mr Rajiv Pillai

Mr Pillai said: “I talk to all my patients about the benefits of having robotic surgery. The recovery is far better than conventional keyhole or open surgery, less painful afterwards and it is easier for the patient to move. The risk of complications is lower too and it is better for patients in terms of sexual function and incontinence.

“As a surgeon there are many benefits too – it’s more precise with a 3D view and gives a 360 degree freedom of movement, which helps you negotiate tissues in narrow confined spaces with ease, causing less tissue damage and is quicker and less tiring as compared to conventional key hole or open surgery.”

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