BHP founder member University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) has recently launched a robotic programme in head and neck cancer surgery, resulting in a range of benefits to patients, staff and the Trust.
Trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS) uses a robot to operate on cancers at the back of the throat, which previously would have been difficult to reach without more extensive and invasive surgery. The robot, which operates through a patient’s mouth provides superior 3D magnified view and provides access to the back of the throat through the use of fine robotic arms, allows tumours to be removed with greater accuracy and precision.
The TORS programme at UHB is led by Head and Neck Consultants Ms Somiah Siddiq and Mr Mriganka De.
Ms Siddiq said: “With the rise of HPV related throat cancers, early stage cancers are ideally suited to robotic surgical approaches.
“One of the key benefits of using the robot is that we don’t have to split the lower jaw to access tumours at the back of the throat, which means both the length of the operation and how long the patient stays in hospital is reduced.
“Using the robot also avoids the need for additional radiotherapy in some patients, and allows access to harder-to-reach cancers in the back of the tongue which were previously not amenable to existing minimal access techniques.”
Patients who have recently undergone TORS surgery also spoke of their experiences.
Mrs Claire Calt said: “I had robotic surgery for a cancerous tumour on the back of my tongue, which was removed in September at Heartlands Hospital. Ms Siddiq explained the procedure at length and I cannot praise her and the team enough. The whole experience was wonderful and I would encourage using TORS as much as possible.
“If I had not had this kind of surgery it would have been a procedure to split my jaw and the recovery would have been longer. Thanks to TORS, I was eating and drinking the next day and back home 3 days later.”
Mrs Sue Barrett, who also underwent robotic surgery, added: “Upon my diagnosis of tonsil cancer, I was horrified and terrified at the prospect of the treatment and journey I would have to face.
“However, Mr De’s reassurance and confidence helped me feel very reassured and his positivity was truly inspirational! He and all the team have not been able to do enough for me, and I have felt thoroughly cared for and supported.
“I woke from the surgery with the robot feeling far better than I had previously. The operation has been such a success that I am now cancer free and haven’t had to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I just cannot thank all the staff enough – their expertise, attentiveness, kindness and treatment have been truly outstanding.”