Four armed robot carries out major surgery in Britain for the first time and the patient recovers two weeks sooner than would be expected from traditional surgery

A patient has become the first in Britain to be operated on for major cancer surgery by a robot.

Dean Walter, 41, had a full pelvic extraction in which his bladder, prostate, rectum and lower colon were removed through a cut in his abdomen only 2in wide.

The operation usually requires a surgeon and three assistants to cut the patient open from their chest to their groin.

Mr Walter, a former fitness model, would have needed three weeks in hospital to recover from traditional surgery – but he was ready to go home eight days after the robotic procedure for rectal cancer.

It was done using a £2million Da Vinci Xi robot, which has four arms for cutting tissue, sealing blood vessels and filming inside the body with a 3D camera.

Two surgeons controlled the robot from consoles several feet away during the eight-hour procedure.

Mr Walter, a father of one from Epsom in Surrey, was diagnosed with rectal cancer last year. Despite having radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the cancer spread to the lymph nodes in his pelvis, forcing surgeons to remove all the organs in his lower abdomen to eliminate the disease.

Colorectal specialist Shahnawaz Rasheed, who led the operation at the Royal Marsden Hospital in central London, said: ‘I’ve done this operation hundreds of times and the robot is going to end up making it much easier and better for the patient.

Mr Walter was days ahead in recovery compared to people who have open surgery because he did not have the trauma of a big hole cut in his abdomen and organs pushed and pulled about. Using a robot is much less for the body to bear.’

Mr Rasheed controlled the robot to remove the rectum and part of the colon, while consultant urologist Pardeep Kumar extracted the prostate and bladder.



Versius is a robot system that carries out keyhole surgery and is expected to be used in the NHS in 2019. It was developed by Cambridge scientists.

Surgeons sit at the end of the robot's four arms, controlling the limbs' movements via two video game-like joysticks and a 3D magnified screen.

Versius' fully-rotating wrists give it a greater range of movement than surgeons have, with the robot also not tiring.

This is thought to reduce errors that cause patients pain and slow down their recovery times.

The US-made da Vinci Xi console is similar, but with only three arms.

Unlike da Vinci, which is 6ftx6ft and weighs a third of a tonne, Versius is around a third of its size and weight.

This makes it easier to set up and transport around different hospital rooms.

Versius' smaller size also gives surgeons more room to work around it

The system's price is unknown, however, its manufacturers are aiming for it to be considerably more cost effective than da Vinci at around £2 million.

da Vinci is used in more than 70 hospitals in the UK.


Source: CMR Surgical , dailymail