CUH Logo

Mobile menu open

500 patients benefit from Trust’s life-saving robots

Addenbrooke’s three surgical robots have helped specialists carry out nearly 540 lifesaving or life altering operations in the last 12 months.

Importantly, the robots enabled patients to recover faster from surgery, and allowed them to go home in hours or days - rather than weeks.

Mr David Power - surgical robot patient case study 600 x 800

Among the first to benefit was patient Mr David Power, pictured above, who despite a major operation was home the next day. His remarkable story can be found at the end of this article.

THUMBS UP: Mr Siong-Seng Liau (sixth on right back row) and the wider team celebrate the first anniversary of the new robots (left: Da Vinci Xi, right: CMR Versius).

The robots have helped with a wide range of conditions, cut waiting lists, and fueled ambitions for a fourth robot, which would make Addenbrooke’s one of the leading surgical centres in the UK.

The success, which staff are seen celebrating above, was outlined today (5 July) - a year to the day after the Trust’s second robot was unveiled following a £1.5m fundraising campaign by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT).

The da Vinci Xi dual console surgical system has revolutionised patient care and surgical training across six specialties - urology, gynae-oncology, gynaecology, colorectal, ENT (ear, nose and throat) and HPB (Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary - diseases of the liver, pancreas and biliary tree).

Chair of CUH Robotic Surgery Steering Group (RUG), Mr Siong-Seng Liau 600 x 600

Chair of CUH Robotic Surgery Steering Group (RUG), Mr Siong-Seng Liau, pictured above, said:

It has been an incredible 12 months during which we have treated hundreds of patients for a multitude of different conditions using techniques that often allow them to go home more quickly, freeing up beds for other patients who urgently need them

We are looking forward to the future with great confidence and, although it may be some way off, have ambitions to acquire a fourth robot and become the leading robotic surgical centre in the UK.

Shelly Thake 600 x 840

ACT CEO, Shelly Thake, pictured above, added:

It is important that all those who worked so hard to raise so much money are aware of just how impactful the robots have been for patients over the last 12 months. Once again, we want to thank them for their incredible support, this would not have been possible without them.

Surgical robot - the da Vinci Xi dual console surgical system

The unveiling at Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre was memorable as the robot cut its own ribbon in front of guests, coinciding with a host of other celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

Pictured celebrating at the time (from left), are CUH consultant surgeons Mr Michael Powar, Professor Grant Stewart and Mr Constantinos Simillis.

The new robot cut its own ribbon during the unveiling

The fund-raising campaign was so successful it enabled the Trust to lease a third CMR Surgical Versius robot, allowing surgical teams to add further upper gastrointestinal, benign gynaecological and colorectal specialities to the service.

The two systems complement Addenbrooke’s first robot, a da Vinci Si, which was introduced over a decade ago to treat kidney, bladder, and prostate patients and was later upgraded to a da Vinci Xi.

The CUH RUG group worked alongside ACT and the Trust to set-up the new services.

Involved were Mr Siong-Seng Liau (Chair of RUG)(HPB); Professor Grant Stewart (Previous Co-Chair), Mr Michael Powar (Colorectal); Miss Ekpemi Irune (ENT); Mr Liam Masterson (ENT); Mr Krishnayan Haldar (Gynae-oncology); Mr Saikat Banerjee (Gynaecology); Mr Simon Harper (HPB); Miss Alex Colquhoun (Urology); Atanul Pal (Colorectal).

The appeal ran over two years. Support came from the Cambridge Independent and many groups and individuals, including CUH surgeon, Atanu Pal, who took part in the virtual London Marathon in 2021, running a route that spelled out the word ROBOT.

The Cambridgeshire Vintage Tractor Club rallied more than 100 tractors to drive through South Cambridgeshire villages, and Frances Dewhurst challenged herself to walk up her stairs ten times a day for 100 days, in memory of her late sisters, Hilary and Charlotte.

In addition to the £1.5 million raised by its supporters, ACT was able to use a legacy that had been left to the charity to purchase a dual console for the da Vinci Xi dual surgical system, allowing surgical trainees to gain hands-on experience of robotic-assisted surgery alongside an experienced surgeon. The legacy brought the total raised by ACT supporters overall to £2,022,270.

ACT and CUH would like to thank those who generously supported the robot appeal over the last two years, in particular the Mark Benevolent Fund and the ALBORADA Trust.

Anyone interested in supporting ACT’s can find more about its work here (opens in a new tab).

Mr David Power - a patient case study

Mr David Power - patient 600 x 823

Retired shop manager David Power, pictured above, wouldn’t hesitate recommending robot surgery to a friend.

Because thanks to surgeon Mr Siong-Seng Liau, and the new da Vinci robot, he was able to return home the next day, rather than the seven to 10 days required had he undergone traditional open surgery.

Mr Power, who worked for many years in the furniture sector, was referred to Addenbrooke’s by his GP after complaining of a swelling in his stomach that increased over 12 months, and was causing an uncomfortable sense of “fullness”.

Further investigations confirmed a very large liver cyst and shortly after Mr Liau removed it with the help of the robot and theatre colleagues, having first drained 2.7 litres of fluid – which is more than 4.7 pints.

The next day Mr Power, who was considerably lighter and two belt notches thinner, was back at his home near Haverhill with wife Stephanie, and his second love - a model railway housed in a 6x3m purpose-built ‘station’ in his back garden.

Mr Power, who also has a passion for photography, said:

My advice to anyone feeling anxious about robot surgery is don’t be. Mine was all very straight forward, and by the next day I was back home, feeling fitter, and getting on with my retirement.

I was soon back to working on the railway layout, and out and about photographing landscapes and interesting architecture.

Mr Liau said:

The conventional way of doing this surgery is traditionally difficult, involving a very large open operation, after which the patient can typically expect to be in hospital for up to seven to ten days.

It was great news that Mr Power was able to benefit from robot surgery, and was back home so quickly to enjoy his retirement. We wish him all the best for the future.