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March 30, 2022

Cancer Operation in Wales will soon be performed with the help of Robotic Arms

It is expected that robotic arms controlled by surgeons could soon be used to perform surgery on thousands of cancer patients in Wales. Formally, patients who live in north wales would have had to travel to England for the robot-assisted surgery but it is all going to change as starting from June, robots will be used to perform some surgeries at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Doctors said the technology would improve surgical accuracy and help patients heal more quickly. The first machine at the hospital is part of the plan to establish what is known as the "all-Wales robotic assisted surgery network", and more of the technology is expected to be introduced across the country.

The NHS will use these robotic arms to perform some prostate and gynaecological cancers, as well as some procedures on the digestive system, kidneys and bladder. These robotic arms which have surgical instruments at the end are used to perform keyhole surgery and controlled by a surgeon via a computer. The cameras on the arms of the robots enable the surgeon to see what is being done and they can also zoom in and magnify the operated area.

Consultant Urologist Mohamed Abdulmajed is one of the first medics to be trained using the robot at Ysbyty Gwynedd. He emphasizes on the many advantages of using the technology while adding that men’s prostate cancer surgery is one of the first operations that will be carried out using the technology.

In his words, "We can be sure of a high level of accuracy, and avoid the nerves which control a man's sexual function, and reduce the risk of someone being made incontinent by the surgery. Overall, keyhole surgery with a robotic arm has many advantages for patients compared to open surgery. The wounds are smaller, there's less blood loss, and that in turn means a shorter hospital stay and an earlier recovery, allowing a person to return to work sooner.".

However, he made assurances to the patients saying that although the technology is being used, the surgery was still carried out by a surgeon as he controls the robot and makes the decisions.

In addition to a similar robot at the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board which has been used for surgery on hard to reach head and neck cancers, a second one will be placed at the health board.

According to the Welsh government, other health boards across Wales will follow suit and the technology provides less invasive surgery for thousands of cancer patients across the country.

The government will be working with CMR Surgical, a medical technological company which builds the robot arms to carry out further research into how they can be used in time to come.

The Wales robotic surgery programme is headed by Jared Torkington who believes that there will be a more radical change in the next 20years. NHS managers are also hoping that having this technology in north Wales' hospitals will help them attract and retain staff.

While the Welsh government has put in £4.2m into the technology over 5years, health boards are also providing more than £13m over 10 years towards developing robot-assisted surgery in Wales. Health Minister Eluned Morgan believes it will put Wales at the vanguard of international research for the use of robot-assisted surgery techniques.

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