Robot used in pioneering pelvic extraction surgery

A 41-year-old man from south London underwent the cutting-edge procedure to treat advanced rectal cancer.

Press Association
Last updated: 16 October 2018 - 9.59am

A patient who underwent Britain’s first total pelvic extraction using robotic surgery is “recovering well”, surgeons said.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust conducted the pioneering treatment on the patient, Dean Walter, to treat his advanced rectal cancer.

The 41-year-old from south London underwent the radical procedure, which removes all of the organs from the pelvic area, with robotic surgical technology – believed to be for the first time in Britain.

The trust said that traditionally the surgery would have involved a large incision – from the chest down to the pubic bone – but using the robotic technology meant the surgery was “minimally invasive”.

Dean is recovering well after the operation (The Royal Marsden/PA)

Surgeons at the trust operated on the patient using four robotic arms equipped with surgical equipment, controlled from a remote console.

After making small incisions to access the abdomen and pelvis, they used the arms to remove tissue and organs effected by the cancer.

The procedure lasted around eight hours (The Royal Marsden/PA)

Consultant surgeons Shahnawaz Rasheed and Pardeep Kumar operated in turn, with the procedure lasting around eight hours, the Royal Marsden said.

Mr Rasheed, who led the case, said: “Our traditional approach would be to do, what we call an ‘open’ operation; a large incision would have been made from the chest down to the pubic bone in order to access and remove the organs and tumour.

“It would have taken a substantial amount of time, and is hugely invasive, leading to longer recovery and substantial scarring for the patient.

“In contrast, by using the robotic technology, we could do the procedure through a minimally invasive approach.

The surgeons operate the robotic console (The Royal Marsden/PA)

“It’s hugely important for this young man, to help him get back to leading a normal life as safely and quickly as possible.

“It’s just over week since we carried out the operation, and already Dean is recovering well and is very mobile.

“For selective cancers in certain patients we will be considering this approach moving forward.”

Mr Walter, a former physique athlete and amateur fitness model, who worked as a play specialist for a children’s charity, will need to use colostomy and urostomy bags following the surgery.

The father-of-one was diagnosed in 2017 and referred to The Royal Marsden for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

For such a major procedure, surgery is minimally invasive, experts said (The Royal Marsden/PA)

But further tests showed that the cancer had also spread to his pelvic lymph nodes.

He said: “When I first heard that I was going to have robotic surgery I was intrigued, but also relieved knowing that I wouldn’t have huge scars across my chest and stomach.

“I’m really hoping that after this operation I can start getting back to living a normal life and can begin training again for my fitness competitions.

“I can’t thank The Royal Marsden enough. Their staff – the surgeons, doctors, nurses, everyone – have all been incredible.”

The trust has the largest programme of robotic surgery for cancer in Britain.

Its da Vinci robotic technology was funded The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The charity is also funding the UK’s only robotic surgery fellowship programme to train surgeons from other trusts in robotic procedures so patients from around the country can access treatment.

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