AROUND 400 patients in Tayside have undergone robotic-assisted surgery since the technology was first introduced at the end of 2021.

The health board has recorded the highest number of robotic procedures using a single robot of any region in Scotland, with the machines now being deployed in the majority of prostate cancer operations. 

It has also be credited with slashing waiting times - with no waiting list at all currently for prostate cancer surgery. 

NHS Tayside’s robotic assisted surgical service first began operating on patients at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee the end of 2021 and has since expanded significantly.

As well as being used in prostate cancer surgery, it has been used to perform complex procedures in colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, urology, gynaecology and ear nose and throat specialities.

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The approach sees surgeons manoeuvre the arms of the robot surgeon using a control panel, with a screen and headset enabling them to view and guide the procedure with extremely precise movements. 

It has been shown to reduce the risk of infections and to speed up patient recovery because it is minimally invasive, meaning that patients will spend less time in hospital overall. 

The Herald: Robot surgery is beneficial for patients and also reduces problems for surgeons such as repetitive strain injuries, or back and neck issues from posture during surgeryRobot surgery is beneficial for patients and also reduces problems for surgeons such as repetitive strain injuries, or back and neck issues from posture during surgery (Image: NHS Tayside)

Consultant urology surgeon, Professor Ghulam Nabi Professor Nabi, carries out robotic-assisted radical prostatectomies.

The robot’s advanced surgical system with a three-dimensional endoscope and image processing equipment provides a magnified view of nerves and blood vessels surrounding the prostate gland, reducing the risk of damage to these structures.

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Professor Nabi said: “Robotic surgery is the least invasive surgical treatment option available today and this surgical option is now very much embedded in the treatment of urology patients.

"It really is an innovative step up from laparoscopic [keyhole] surgery.

“The benefits of using precision instruments and keyhole surgical techniques for patients are evidenced in reduced blood loss and time spent recovering in hospital.

"Patients who have had robotic surgery for prostatectomies are generally able to be discharged the next day.

"This dramatic reduction in hospital stay is having a positive impact on waiting times as it means more patients than ever can be treated.

“Robotics surgery has increased capacity and thereby decreased the 31 days waiting target for surgery.

"We have no waiting list for prostate cancer surgery currently.”

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Bishop Stephen Robson, from Dundee, is among those to benefit after undergoing recent prostate cancer surgery. 

He said: “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer after having had little or no symptoms.

"After discussions with Professor Nabi it was agreed that my procedure would be carried out using robotic-assisted surgery.

“I had absolutely no qualms about the surgery as it was fully explained to me and I felt very reassured that it was being carried out using such high-tech equipment under the expert control of Professor Nabi.

“For me the major benefit of robotic surgery was how quickly I was able to go home.

"I was amazed that I was home the next day after my operation which is down to the skill of Professor Nabi and the fantastic nursing team who helped look after me.

“I am very grateful to everyone who has been involved in my care and treatment. At each stage of my cancer journey I have been treated with the utmost respect and kindness.”