Demonstration day gives hands-on experience of state-of-the-art surgery system

Patients who have undergone surgery and students interested in careers in engineering have been given hands-on experience of using a state-of-the-art robotic-assisted surgery system at Lincoln County Hospital.

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The Colorectal Surgery Team welcomed visitors for a day of demonstrations to showcase how robotic-assisted procedures have been making a difference to patients in Lincolnshire.

Visitors had the chance to speak to some of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s consultant surgeons, and had a rare opportunity to get to grips with a simulator and a duplicate model of the Da Vinci Xi system in place in one of Lincoln’s operating theatres.

The day was made possible thanks to the simulator and demonstration model being delivered from the Netherlands especially for the one-day event by Intuitive, the company who pioneered the system.

Consultant robotic Surgeon, Mr Sridhar Dharmavaram said: “The introduction of robotic-assisted surgery in Lincolnshire has been very positive. More than 500 people were able to have their surgery closer to home in the first two years of having this technology in place, with shorter stays in hospital and faster recoveries when compared to laparoscopic (keyhole) surgeries. In ULHT, robotic colorectal surgery is performed by Amit Shukla, Sridhar Dharmavaram and Athula Tennakoon.

“This is the first demonstration event we’ve hosted of this kind, and the feedback from our patients, staff and the engineering students from local schools and colleges who were able to join us has been great. We are very proud of the services we are developing in Lincolnshire, and of the opportunities it offers to patients and those interested in a career in healthcare.”

Mel Foster, from Marston, had a robotic-assisted surgery last year and was among the patients who took part in the day. He said: “Normally I would be the person turning away from seeing anything medical on television, but this is very impressive. I really appreciate what the team has done for me.”

Angela and Peter Hancox said the experience was “worth every mile” to travel from Skegness. Peter added: “To come and be shown how this works for ourselves has been mind-blowing. I feel very lucky to have had the surgery.”

Terry and Julie Rhodes, also from Skegness, said: “We wanted to come out of curiosity but also admiration. The robotic system is amazing but it’s nothing without the surgeons. My admiration for the staff is second to none.”

The NHS Lincolnshire Talent Academy, which brings together health and care organisations across Lincolnshire to engage, recruit and develop future talent, supported engineering students to take part in the day. This included groups from William Farr School, Lincoln College, Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School and Lincoln University Technical College.