Publish date: 28 September 2022

Surgical technology at Northumbria Healthcare proving successful

Three women in scrubs standing next to a piece of robotic equipment.

More than 600 patients have benefited from faster, lower-risk procedures in the past 12 months thanks to the arrival of ultra-modern robotic surgery at Northumbria Healthcare.

Last year, the trust started using surgical robots at hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside for the very first time, investing more than £3.7 million in these exciting new services.

Since then, surgeons have completed around 100 colorectal operations and more than 500 gynaecological and upper gastrointestinal procedures using the new equipment.

Surgical robots offer some key advantages over conventional surgery and have proved to be less invasive, more consistent and precise with a lower risk for a range of procedures.

By using surgical robots, surgeons can offer much less invasive surgery to more patients, for a wider range of conditions. This means a shorter stay in hospital, with less pain and a faster recovery after their operation.

Surgeons use the 3D vision and special instruments on the surgical robot to have an even greater accuracy of dissection during operations.

In traditional open surgery, clinicians operate with handheld instruments through a large incision, but increasingly it’s possible to carry out many operations by making just a few small cuts and then inserting specialist equipment.

Robotic-assisted surgery is much less invasive for patients because it helps surgeons be more accurate and consistent while operating. This technology allows the surgeon to use a special console in the operating theatre that provides an ultra-clear and magnified view while operating tiny instruments that have greater mobility than the human hand, with even more precision.

Northumbria Healthcare now has two DaVinci Xi surgical robots at hospitals in North Tyneside and Cramlington that enable surgeons to use the best technology for the benefit of patients.

Iain McCallum, a consultant colorectal surgeon at the trust, said: “This new equipment is really helping transform many of our services. Not only is it helping us see more patients in a timelier way, it is also less invasive for patients, which reduces the risk of complications, meaning people are often back on their feet much faster after their treatment.

Sir James Mackey, Northumbria Healthcare’s chief executive, added: “We are really focused on recovering from a difficult few years for the NHS and embedding as many innovations as we can to help local people get the treatment they need.

“The last 12 months has seen a significant upgrade of all our theatre equipment and this reflects our ambition and determination to provide local people with world-class services.”

In a separate project, Hexham General Hospital was one of the first five hospitals in the country to get a new surgical robot as part of a medical trial into hip replacement surgery.

More information about robotic surgery at Northumbria Healthcare is available here.