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Robotic surgery system used across Europe completes 1,000 operations

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Robotic surgery systems provide a number of benefits
Robotic surgery systems provide a number of benefits   -   Copyright  CMR Surgical/AP
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Robot surgery is burgeoning across Europe and the wider world, with one UK-built surgical robot now completing more than 1,000 operations.

With a pair of 3D glasses, and using what look like video game controllers, skilled surgeons can utilise the high-tech Versius system to undertake complicated procedures with often much better outcomes for patients.

The use of this key-hole surgery - or minimal access surgery - has benefits such as shorter hospital stays for patients, faster recovery time, less pain, less bleeding, and reduced scarring.

Versius was created by Cambridge-based CMR Surgical, and is now in use in hospitals in France, Italy the UK and India.

“If you could have a robot with articulated wrists and the enhanced vision and more people could do minimal access surgery, then more patients would get all the benefits of the minimal access,” said Mark Slack, CMR Surgical’s co-founder and chief medical officer.

Launched in 2018, the system has now completed more than 1,000 surgeries, and is part of the burgeoning use of robot surgery, first introduced back in 2000.

The use of these surgeries was ushered in with the da Vinci surgical system, and Slack is hoping his company’s newer system will lead to greater adoption.

One barrier for hospitals and health authorities may be the price, with the Versius costing between €1.12-€1.68 million. Most hospitals access the system on a lease basis.

Retired school worker Susan Cleverly, 71, is one of the thousand patients to have undergone surgery using the system.

In June earlier this year, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Once diagnosed, she went straight to surgery.

After just two days recovery in hospital, she was discharged and says she's not had any complications since.

"I can't say there was any pain. I'd say maybe a bit uncomfortable. Only painkillers I had were paracetamol. Went home, eating, fine. It was quite amazing, it really was," she says.

"For such a thing I thought that was going to be so traumatic. It was really quite simple at the end of the day."