Published on: 17 December 2021

The Colorectal Surgery team is celebrating a major milestone after recently discharging its 100th major robotic cancer resection patient

The robotic colorectal surgery programme was set up in 2017 to bring cutting edge advanced minimally invasive surgery for colorectal cancer to the people of East Lancashire and the wider region. ELHT was the first Trust in the Lancashire and South Cumbria region to offer the surgery. Since its launch, it has seen the hospital take on more complex cases to provide positive outcomes for patients with colorectal cancer.

The robotic surgery offers a minimally invasive approach for patients with challenging pelvic and colonic cancers and offers better views and manoeuvrability for surgeons during the operation. For patients, it also means a shortened stay in hospital, less pain and a quicker return to normal function.

Mr Adnan Sheikh, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at the Trust, said: “At times the area we work in is the size of a tin of beans and the robot allows us to take the cancer out without damaging major vital structures adjacent to the cancer. Our outcomes are some of the best in the country with a zero 30-day mortality and very low complication rates.

“Robotic surgery is the future for colorectal surgery across the board and ELHT is now in a strategically beneficial position to be a leader in the field.”

Following its success, the team plans to set up a training unit with dual console at the Trust, so they can train not only established surgeons but also trainees so when they are ready to take on a Consultant post they are fully prepared to offer this surgery.

Mr Sheikh added: “Our services and experience have evolved so we have now applied to be recognised as proctors, which means we can be invited to other centres which are setting up robotic services to help and train them. Their surgeons can also visit to see us at work and take back tips and tricks.”

The success of the unit has not been achievable without a fantastic team as the backbone, from theatre staff, ITU and Anaesthetic colleagues, specialist nurses, managers and ward staff who have all been extremely dedicated to the programme.

Mr Mike Gill, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at the Trust, summarised: “Crossing the 100-resection milestone is certainly a great achievement and is a testament to the team which has supported us all the way to achieve this, despite some of the most challenging times with a worldwide pandemic.

“Personally, for me the reward is that I have helped 100 patients benefit from this technology, changing not only their lives for the future but also the lives of their family. This gives me the highest personal satisfaction.”

Ground-breaking robotic surgical technology has been available to eligible patients across East Lancashire since June 2015, when ELHT purchased its first £1.3 million Da Vinci robot, which was based at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital. In 2019 the Hospital’s charity secured two new robots, one for Blackburn and another for Burnley which increased the offer to deliver more procedures.

The hospital’s official charity, ELHT&Me, needs to raise £238k every year to continue providing robotic surgery and is calling for your support to achieve this.

Please make a real difference across East Lancashire, click here to donate.