Robotic knee surgery at Ysbyty Gwynedd 'transforming' patient recovery times says surgical team

  • ITV Wales' reporter Ian Lang visited Ysbyty Gwynedd to learn about robotics in the medical field.

As NHS wait time figures continue to climb, doctors at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, are using robotic surgery when doing knee procedures which could result in patients going home on the same day. 

Retired physician, Dr Prem Ohri, is the first NHS patient in Wales to receive this innovative technique, returning home within the same day.

Undergoing a knee replacement procedure which merges robotics and medicine, doctors say it could be the future. 

Dr Prem Ohri has now improved his quality of life following his successful surgery. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A few weeks post-op and the 71-year-old has told ITV News the surgery has been life-changing. Once an active man, Dr Ohri recounted how pain in his knee meant he could not even play with his grandchildren. 

He is the first NHS patient to have a total robotic knee replacement and be admitted and discharged from the hospital in just one day. 

He said: “I was really not an easy patient to undergo the surgery. It was pleasant surprise (...) that I could go home.” 

Due to his swift recovery, Dr Prem Ohri is now awaiting surgery on the other knee. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The implementation this new technique means surgeries can be pre-planned on a computer which allows for more precision, creating a faster and more efficient experience for both the patient and surgeon.

Surgical teams at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor, have performed more than 100 robotically assisted knee replacement surgeries.

Mr Muthu Ganapathi, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, said: “The robot is a very accurate tool, which is a good assistant.

“So basically the surgeon plans exactly what he wants to do, and the robot will bring the cutting guide of what the surgeon wants. And so the surgeon is able to precisely and accurately do the bone cuts."

He continued: “In our own experience, the patients are definitely recovering much faster. We have started doing day surgery arthroplasty, using the robotic personalised alignment technique.

“And also we have seen patients walking independently on the first day, postoperatively and in the community, walking almost normally in two or three weeks' time, which is not normal after traditional knee replacement.”

Recent figures have shown nearly 600,000 people on treatment waiting lists in Wales in August, slightly lower than the previous month - but close to the record high. 

Those waiting the longest for treatment has increased with the number of cases waiting over 36 weeks for treatment again topping a quarter of a million.

The Welsh government's pre-covid target was that nobody should be waiting that long for treatment.

Depending on the individual's fitness level and general health, not all patients can return home within a day. All aspects are carefully considered, but doctors have said what previously was an improbability is now, very much, a possibility.

When discussing the new method at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Sion Quinn, a clinical lead physiotherapist said: "It's great for patients. They know that they can safely come into hospital, and they can go home safely that evening back to their own family."

NHS Wales is already looking to introduce more technology into the daily operations of health boards across the country as the Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, announced the rollout of digital innovations that could save money and cut wait times.

As technology becomes more advanced by the day, and even more integrated into all aspects of life, and with the health board described by many as "on its knees", Ysbyty Gwynedd is embracing this change and hoping to advance the future of medicine in Wales.

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