Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust (LTHT) is marking a significant milestone as it celebrates its 5,000th case of robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System.

In 2005, LTHT introduced its inaugural da Vinci system and now boasts three of the most cutting-edge robotic systems from Intuitive. These systems are employed by surgeons in eight surgical specialities in Leeds, encompassing cancer treatment and specialised care for children.

A greater number of patients in Leeds are now reaping the benefits of enhanced clinical outcomes from robotic-assisted surgery, including swifter recovery times, shorter hospital stays, reduced complications, fewer readmissions, and a significantly reduced likelihood of needing open surgery.

Over the past year, two older robotic systems within the Trust were updated, and a state-of-the-art model was integrated into the robotic surgical suite at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. Since this upgrade, the number of patients undergoing robotic-assisted surgery for cancer treatment has more than doubled.

The da Vinci systems equip surgeons with an advanced array of instruments for minimally invasive surgery. By inserting a minute camera inside the patient, the surgeon manoeuvres the robotic arms from the console, mirroring the surgeon’s hand movements in real-time. This allows for a level of precision far superior to traditional laparoscopic or open surgery.

Prof. Phil Wood, Chief Executive at LTHT, said:

“It’s a very exciting time for Leeds. We’re already one of the biggest robotic surgical centres in the NHS and our Paediatric Robotic programme at Leeds Children’s Hospital is one of the largest internationally.

“We believe our recent investments in our da Vinci systems are now paying off for both our patients and our surgical teams. With this 5,000th patient, it’s clear more patients than ever before are benefitting from robotic-assisted surgery, and we can look forward to even more people receiving those benefits as more surgeons are trained to do other procedures using the system.”

He added: “This impressive milestone demonstrates our commitment to delivering world-class care and for making Leeds an international centre of excellence for robotic surgery.”

Matthew Millott, Deputy Team Leader – Robotics at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, said:

“Thanks to the number of procedures now possible using robotic-assisted surgery and some careful theatre scheduling and co-ordination, we are seeing tremendous benefits as it means we can treat more patients sooner, which is great news for patients who are waiting for surgery.

“For some patients who received robotic-assisted surgery, the hospital stay has reduced from more than a week to just one or two days, such as with the newly implemented Nephroureterectomy program. As a result, we are enabling more and more patients to get on with their lives after surgery, much faster than before.”

He added: “Robots aren’t replacing anyone – we still need highly-skilled surgeons to operate the da Vinci systems, and we have an excellent professional team including dedicated robotic surgical assistants, nurses, operating department practitioners, and anaesthetists who are all needed to make this happen.”

David Marante, UK Regional Director of Intuitive, the maker of the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system, said:

“We’d like to congratulate the team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals for reaching 5,000 procedures using the da Vinci system. It has been a privilege to work with the team as they have expanded their robotic surgery programme to provide more patients with access to minimally invasive surgery.”

Carol Stott, 72 and from Leeds, is the 5,000th patient to have undergone robot-assisted surgery at LTHT. She said:

“I didn’t know what to expect when I was told about robot-assisted surgery. It seemed marvellous, and when it was explained it to me, I was really put at ease. It was a big team who looked after me – they were all really delighted by the outcome. I remember lying in bed after the procedure feeling elated.”

She added: “Everyone was amazed with how well I was so quickly after the operation. My friends visited the following week and couldn’t believe it. I’ve been looked after so well.”

In 2005, Leeds Children’s Hospital became the first UK hospital to introduce a robotic system dedicated to paediatric surgery. This was later replaced in 2015 with a more advanced system, thanks to a charitable donation.

As one of the nation’s leading teaching hospitals, the establishment of a robotic case observation centre has enabled surgical peers and trainees to observe live robotic surgery and learn from experienced robotic surgeons.

This has established Leeds as a centre of excellence, attracting surgeons from across Europe seeking training in the field of robotic surgery.

With dual console capabilities, trainees at Leeds Teaching Hospitals gain hands-on experience with the da Vinci system during their training, acquiring invaluable skills for their future surgical careers.