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Robotic surgery

The robots are coming

Head and neck surgeons at Northwick Park have begun using robotic surgery to treat patients.

Consultant Abdul Ahmed removed tonsils during the first two trans-oral robotic procedures although the robot’s primary focus will be treating patients for head and neck cancers.

The self-confessed technophile says robotic surgery offers better access and accuracy for surgeons working in confined areas like the mouth and base of the throat.

Abdul said: “One of the biggest misconceptions about robotic surgery is that patients might be left solely in the hands of a machine, which is enough to unsettle anyone.”

In reality, a surgeon operates the four armed surgical cart from a nearby console along with a supporting theatre team.

The team is aided by a camera which not only magnifies the area of interest up to 10 times that of normal vision but also provides a unique 3-D view of the body allowing a surgeon to easily identify vital anatomy, such as delicate nerves and blood vessels.

The instrumentation eliminates even the smallest of hand tremors and has the dexterity to perform complex surgical moves after the body is entered through a series of small ‘operating ports’ or incisions.

Abdul, who had earlier experience of robotics in South Korea, completed a training course in France with his surgical team, and performed the first transoral robotic case in Northwick Park Hospital.

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