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Date: 23 April 2021

Time: 00:36

Image (from L-R): Mr Powell, Mr Doherty and Mr Spence

First ‘robot-assisted op’ and keyhole patients meet

Story posted/last updated: 17 January 2014

Two prostate cancer patients who had their operations a decade apart using different pioneering techniques met at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) to share their experiences.

Back in 2003, Hubert Powell was the first patient in the Midlands to have his prostate removed by keyhole surgery, whilst over a decade later David Spence was the first to have a prostatectomy in the hospital’s first robot-assisted operation.

Both operations were carried out at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by Mr Alan Doherty, consultant urological surgeon, whose pioneering surgery has helped many patients over the last decade.

Mr Doherty said, “In August 2003, Mr Powell was my first keyhole surgery patient. Now this type of operation is routine and technology has moved forward so that robot-assisted operations now represent the cutting edge of urological surgery. Mr Spence’s operation was very successful and took just over three hours - he was discharged home within three days.

“The advantage of using the da Vinci Surgical System is that we can work via much smaller holes in the patient’s body, which means less blood loss, less scarring and quicker recovery.”

The da Vinci system translates a surgeon’s hand movements into smaller more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. These instruments can bend and rotate far more than the human hand. The system features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system which gives a better depth of vision. As a result, the robot allows surgeons to operate with enhanced precision and control.

Mr Powell, who turns 80 later this year and now volunteers at the hospital, was keen to meet another prostate cancer patient who had undergone pioneering urological surgery at QEHB. He said: “Back in 2003, I had no reservations about being the first patient to have a keyhole prostatectomy. I remember feeling a little bit nervous but I had total faith in Mr Doherty. It was lovely to meet Mr Spence and I’m really pleased his operation was successful too. I wish him a speedy recovery.”

The da Vinci Surgical System, which has been purchased with support from QEHB Charity, is the latest arrival in QEHB’s portfolio of cutting-edge technology, which includes a TomoTherapy HD machine and a CyberKnife system. Mr Doherty added: “These pieces of equipment, coupled with the expertise of the many supporting specialties throughout the Trust, mean we now have the capability to offer an answer to every cancer patient’s treatment needs.”

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