SCOTLAND is set to lead a revolution in surgery as a new robotic training hub launches in Edinburgh.

Around 120 surgeons a year from Scotland, the north of England and Western Europe will be able to hone their skills on the Da Vinci robots at the centre based at the headquarters of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh (RCSE) in Nicolson Street.

The minimally invasive technology is expected to transform complex cancer surgery by slashing recovery time for patients, reducing infection risk, and enabling the NHS to increase the number of operations which can be carried out.

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Although there are already14 Da Vinci robots in place at hospitals across Scotland, following a £20 million investment by the Scottish Government, few surgeons in the UK are currently trained to use the devices.

"It brings huge prestige to Scotland, and to the College in particular, to able to deliver education and training like this,"said Professor Michael Griffin, president of RCSE.

"It is absolutely state of the art and we're very proud."

The College has worked with the robot's manufacturer, Intuitive, to train up specialists in every major organ from the oesophagus to the prostate so that they can teach surgical trainees and well as established surgeons on how to perform operations using the Da Vinci.

The Herald:

A major benefit for medics is that it cuts fatigue because instead of standing for hours, they are seated at a console viewing the procedure via highly-magnified, 3D images on a screen.

The console then transfers - extremely precisely - the very fine hand movements of the surgeon onto the patient via the robotic arm.

Surgeons do not even have to be in the operating theatre with the patients, potentially paving the way for routine tele-surgery in future - especially in remote or island communities which struggle to attract specialists.

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Mr Griffin said: "The great advantage is that, yes, it helps to standardise complex surgery, but above all what it does is take away a lot of the fatigue from the primary operator performing long, very concentrated, minimally invasive procedures.

"If surgeons are standing the whole time, sometimes for hours on end, that's when fatigue sets in.

"By using the robot, surgeons can sit down and use the console to do these complex manoeuvres rather than doing everything themselves and holding their hands in complicated and often ergonomically difficult positions.

"So what robotics provides is that release of the fatigue which makes procedures safer, more standardised, and overall patient outcomes will be so much better."

The Herald:

Robotic surgery builds on laparoscopic - or 'key-hole' - techniques famously pioneered by Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri in Dundee in the 1990s, and was initially targeted to prostate operations because it enabled surgeons to undertake extremely precise procedures using very small incisions.

The increased number of Da Vinci systems in Scotland means robotic-assisted surgery can now be offered to more patients and used for a wider range of cancer and benign procedures in hard-to-reach organs, including colorectal, gynaecological, urological, and head and neck cancer.

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Mr Campbell Roxburgh, a senior clinical lecturer at Glasgow University and chair of the National Planning Robotic-Assisted Surgery Clinical Reference Group, said Scotland was "establishing itself at the forefront of these developments".

He added: "This facility will help to train a nation of Scottish surgeons seeking to specialise in robotic-assisted surgery, delivering benefits to Scottish patients and enabling us to become self-sufficient in training and implementation of robotic surgery.

"We should aim to be seen in the rest of the UK and further afield as a centre of excellence for training surgeons both here and beyond our shores.”

Training on the Da Vinci Surgical Systems will be delivered in-person by Intuitive and will enable surgeons to gain a deep understanding of how to use the technology, including camera control, retraction and arm control, suturing and instrument insertion.