Publish date: 31 August 2022

Urology innovations boost patient comfort, reduce risk and free up theatres

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A series of innovations in urology at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are improving treatment for patients and reducing the numbers requiring surgery.

On Wednesday, July 27, the first Northumbria Healthcare patients underwent the TULA (Transurethral Laser Ablation) procedure – a relatively new laser treatment for dealing with small tumours in bladder cancer patients.

This is the first treatment involving lasers which has been introduced for outpatients at the trust. The procedure takes place under local anaesthetic as a day case and is much less invasive for patients.

Andy Moon, the trust’s clinical lead for urology, said: “Introducing this procedure to treat people as outpatients under local anaesthetic has a range of benefits for all involved. For the patients, it is less risky and invasive, and they do not have to stop taking medications such as anti-coagulants.

“From our point of view, as well as providing a better experience for our patients, it frees up time in operating theatres and wards, which in turn supports our efforts to ensure nobody has to wait too long for treatment. It is more cost-effective and takes place as a day case.”

The TULA procedure has been offered at the Freeman Hospital since last year, so its introduction at Northumbria Healthcare means that patients who would have previously gone to Newcastle no longer need to, freeing up their lists too.

But this is not the only innovation that has been introduced in urology; two other recent developments have also resulted in patients no longer needing to have surgery.

In early 2020, a new department was set up at Wansbeck General Hospital to carry out trans-perineal biopsies for prostate cancer and 12 a week are now taking place.

This again has resulted in patients being taken out of theatres to be seen as outpatients, both reducing risk for them and freeing up surgical time for other procedures.

Then earlier this year, the urology team also introduced a new technique using steam to treat benign enlargement of the prostate.

The Rezum procedure is a minimally invasive treatment which involves a special machine using steam to ablate the particular part of the prostate that is enlarged.

Chris Hall, lead clinical nurse specialist for urology, said: “There are a range of new technologies being developed and our team is always keen to look at anything which can improve the experience of our patients.

“We are currently offering the Rezum procedure, which is another day case where previously patients would have spent a few days at the Freeman, while we also were the first in the region to introduce the trans-perineal biopsies, within an outpatient setting under local anaesthetic, following the lead of the team down at Guy's Hospital in London.”