New surgical robot makes UK debut at Guy’s and St Thomas’

Friday 9 June 2023

Surgeons, wearing green scrubs, are in an operating theatre using the new Hugo robot system

Surgical team operating on a patient using the Hugo robot.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has become the first Trust in the UK to adopt the newest surgical robot, the Hugo robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system, from healthcare technology company Medtronic.

The Trust boasts the largest robotic surgery programme in the country and the adoption of Hugo means it now has seven robots operating across six specialties. Robotic assisted surgery is minimally invasive so patients spend less time in hospital and recover faster.

Rob George from Honor Oak Park in south east London was one of the first people to benefit after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The 70-year-old is a professor of palliative care and had surgery to remove his prostate, called a prostatectomy, at Guy's Hospital.

He said: “I’ve done a lot of firsts in my own career so I know things from the other side of the fence. I’ve had conversations with patients about doing something new or novel so I thought it was fitting that it was me this time.

“I came to this massively informed about what cancer means and what its potential consequences are but I am an optimist. I thought ‘I’ve got cancer, here are the options, so let’s get it out’.

“I arrived early on Friday morning and was home by tea time the next day. From start to finish the whole process was amazing.”

Ben is wearing a suit and tie. He has his arm around Rob's shoulder. They are both smiling

Ben Challacombe, who is Rob’s surgeon and clinical lead for robotic surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We carry out the most robotic operations in the NHS with more than 1,500 cases a year. Expanding our robotics programme with Hugo allows us to offer the benefits of this technology, including fewer complications and smaller scars, to even more patients.”

Rob, a father of four with eight grandchildren, added: “Because I was monitoring my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels it meant the issue was picked up as early as it could be and managed appropriately. So, my message to other men is to check your risk with Prostate Cancer UK's online risk checker.”

During a robotic procedure with Hugo, the surgeon sits at an open console, which displays a high definition 3D view and allows them to precisely control the robotic arms and instruments. The hi-tech surgical instruments and a state-of-the-art camera are inserted through tiny incisions in the body.

George Murgatroyd, Vice President and General Manager, Digital Technologies, Surgical Operating Unit, Medtronic said: “It’s always inspiring to hear about the impact Medtronic technology is making on a patient’s life. We’re honoured to partner with Ben Challacombe and the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ to lead a forward-thinking approach to working with robotics and digital solutions in the operating theatre, in support of our mission to expand access to care to more patients around the world.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ have also partnered with Proximie to support surgical training on the Hugo RAS system. Surgeons can observe live surgeries via the Proximie platform without needing to be physically present and receive access to recordings of previous surgeries. This provides further opportunities to develop skills to use the system.

Last updated: June 2023

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