Our first emergency robot gynaecology surgery | News from The Royal London

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Our first emergency robot gynaecology surgery

Our team at The Royal London Hospital performed their first ever emergency gynaecology case using robotics - a rare form of surgery. 

Easmin, 30, had been waiting for surgery due to a suspected ovarian torsion (when the ovary twists, cutting off blood supply).  However, it turned out she had a large septic tumour that was becoming infected. Easmin required emergency surgery to remove the tumour but due to complications, the usual procedure would pose too much of a risk.

When this was discovered, the teams all quickly worked together to tailor Easmin’s care to minimise any complications and give her the best chance of making a recovery. Thanks to the innovative thinking and determination of the team, they successfully performed their first emergency gynaecology case using robotics.

Robotic surgery, unlike open surgery, involves making a small incision and inserting a device which is controlled by a surgeon. It enables enhanced precision, flexibility and control during the operation and reduces blood loss and recovery time.

Due to the planning involved, using robotics surgery to treat emergency cases is rare. As a result, the team had to work hard to gather colleagues from across different specialties to make the surgery happen, including finding a robotics theatre they could use to perform the procedure. 

Gynaecology consultant, Dr Angela Bourke, recalls the coordination and commitment from theatres colleagues that made this surgery possible: 

Due to the superb collaboration of theatre staff, consultants, colorectal surgeons, and ENT surgeons (who allowed us to use their robotics theatre), Easmin was able to have her complex surgery completed after previously waiting for a year for treatment.

We’re so grateful to all colleagues who worked together to make this happen at our hospital for the first time.

Thanks to the determination of the teams, Easmin was discharged within 3 days and is now home. Speaking of her experience of care, she said:

My recovery was really good, and my body feels like it’s getting back to normal. From the beginning to end I felt taken care of. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped organise this surgery, and to Dr Bourke who sat and listened to me. 

“I know how much she pushed for my surgery to happen, and I’m so grateful to the surgeons who moved out of the robotics theatre to enable my surgery to be done. It felt like everyone was doing everything they could to make it happen.

Dr Elly Brockbank was the on-call gynae-oncologist at the time, and an experienced robotic surgeon:

This was an exemplary example of collaboration, as well as teamwork, to give the best possible outcome for the patient. There were many things that we needed to organise to make it happen.

The surgery would not have happened without the hard work and flexibility from ENT, theatres, and anaesthetic staff, as well as our operating department practitioners, and experienced gynae-oncology robotic surgeon, Dr James Dilly, who performed the surgery alongside Dr Bourke assisting with intra-operative planning and decision making.

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