Cancer patient is first in UK to have pioneering robotic surgery

  • A warning that Ken Goodwin's report includes scenes of surgery

It's like science fiction: a robot's arms, inside a patient's abdomen, operating on a deadly tumour.

But as revolutionary as it is, it is not quite what it seems.

The machine is being controlled by a surgeon, using a 3D TV screen and joysticks to control its movement.

And it has given Martin Nugent, from Cheltenham, a new lease of life.

Before the operation, his oesophageal cancer was likely to kill him within a few months.

So he volunteered for robotic surgery at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, becoming the first person in the UK to have this procedure using this next generation Versius robot.

The robotic arms are controlled remotely

The life-saving procedure involved raising Mr Nugent’s stomach and reconnecting it to the oesophagus once the tumour had been removed.

Previously at Gloucestershire Royal, the thoracic stage of an oesophagectomy has been performed through open surgery.

But using the Versius surgical robot meant that a minimal access – or keyhole – surgical approach was possible, which also improves patient recovery.

Martin Nugent was grateful to the doctors who carried out the procedure

Martin and his wife have now been back to the hospital to thank the surgeons.

"I was glad to be able to thank them," he said "Nobody knew what the outcome was going to be, but I am a survivor, not a victim, that's the way I look at it.

"I hope that this will help other people in the future."

His wife Jacqui wept as she spoke to ITV News West Country:

She said: "When you see them, and realise what they have done, we are so grateful, because if they hadn't have done it, Martin wouldn't be here now."

Mr Simon Higgs, upper GI consultant, said: “It was important for us to bring in Versius to the hospital so that patients having both routine surgeries like cholecystectomies as well as more complex procedures benefit from the precision and accuracy that robotic surgery brings.

“Upper GI is an extremely busy department and adopting Versius signifies a new era for the specialty as many more patients will receive minimal access surgery and be treated with this high-quality technology.”

As for Martin and his wife, they can now plan for the future.

Jacqui said: "Things are getting back to normal now, we can plan things to do in the future, which we didn't know we were going to have."