Pioneering robotic surgery

Thanks to donations, Guy’s and St Thomas’ are leading the way in robotic surgery that can be used to treat life-threatening conditions like prostate cancer.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity funded the purchase of an extraordinary piece of equipment that has transformed current surgical practice, called the da Vinci surgical system. 

Pioneering robotic surgery

The da Vinci system is equipped with 3D vision that has been enhanced ten times, tiny wrists that operate the knives with no tremor (unlike human hands), and is fed into the body through tiny holes in the skin – removing the need for invasive surgery that could leave severe scarring.

Professor Dasgupta is Professor of Robotic Surgery and Urological Innovation at King’s and Honorary Consultant Urological Surgeon at Guy's and St Thomas'. He and his team were awarded £1.5 million by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity in 2004 to take robotic surgery forward.

He says: ‘We needed to be at the forefront of these developments – at that time, everyone was still performing surgery using cuts. We use the da Vinci surgical system, which is amazing.’

Guy’s and St Thomas’ carries out the most robotic surgery in the UK, around 400 cases a year. The majority are prostate operations, but also include bladder and kidney surgery.

Treating prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men: roughly 40,000 men are diagnosed with it in the UK each year. This disease is usually treated with a standard radical prostatectomy – having the prostate removed – but this is a complex operation that carries a high risk of incontinence and impotence for the patient.

However, by using a tiny and highly-sensitive robotic instrument, equipped with a 3D high-definition camera and controlled using digital technology, surgeons can remove tumours more effectively. This treatment method reduces the risk of the cancer returning, and there is less chance of potentially life-changing side effects.

‘For the last ten years, we have pioneered robotic surgery, which improves outcomes for prostate cancer patients,’ says Professor Dasgupta. ‘It’s completely transformed the way we perform surgery for prostate cancer.’

Helping even more patients

And robotic surgery isn’t just used for prostate cancer. Guy’s surgeons use it to remove bladder cancer tumours, perform kidney transplants and carry out plastic surgery procedures.

‘We are now celebrating our 10th year and are the highest volume robotic centre in the country,’ says Professor Dasgupta.

‘And it’s not just urology – we’re multi-disciplinary, so we do paediatrics, kidney transplants, ear, nose, throat and plastic surgery. Our student programme is constantly oversubscribed, and we have a fantastic robotics simulation laboratory on the fourth floor.’

Victoria Borwick, Deputy Mayor of London, says: ‘London is home to some of the world's greatest universities and teaching hospitals and Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London are at the forefront of cutting-edge robotic surgery. Their treatments and research are leading to improved care for patients in fields such as paediatrics, gynaecology and plastic surgery.’