A CUTTING-EDGE 'robo-surgeon' used by doctors at the Royal Preston Hospital in the fight against cancer has marked a major milestone.
It is two years since the first robotic operation was carried out at the hospital using the advanced equipment. And since that time nearly 600 ops have been completed.
Royal Preston Hospital now has one of the biggest robotic surgery case lists in the country.
The DaVinci Xi is the most advanced robotic surgical system available and was bought by the Rosemere Cancer Foundation with money donated by the public.
Hospital bosses say the robot has been "hugely successful" in improving outcomes for cancer patients throughout Lancashire and south Cumbria - and has also led to quicker recovery times.
Notable surgeries throughout those two years include the first upper gastrointestinal tract robotic surgery in the North West, a combined robotic procedure to treat both bowel and womb cancer in the same patient, and the first robotic patient recruited into an international clinical trial into rectal cancer.
The robot provides a three-dimensional view and the 'wristed' instruments allow much greater control and care of tissues, making it much easier for surgeons to access parts of the body that are difficult to reach.
It means they can undertake complex procedures using keyhole incisions rather than open surgery, reducing the risk of complications and enabling a speedier recovery.
Over the past two years, surgeons at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals have travelled around Europe to learn the techniques and uses of the robotic system to make these surgeries happen, as they are not currently widely available anywhere within the UK.
Pierre Martin-Hirsch, consultant gynaecological cancer surgeon at the hospital, said: "We are delighted to have had access to the surgical robot for the last two years.
"We are truly grateful to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation and its supporters for fundraising to make this type of cutting-edge technology available to patients in Lancashire."
"The advanced capabilities of the surgical robot have enabled us to offer surgery to groups of patients who would otherwise not ne suitable for this type of surgery; with significant reductions in patient recovery times and complications.
"We have been able to achieve so much with this robot and I'm sure we will continue to grow in success."
When it arrived, the robotic system was the first of its kind in the North of England and one of just three in the country.