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Training the surgeons of tomorrow, today

Next generation technology – the da Vinci Xi

Next generation technology – the da Vinci Xi

The da Vinci Xi robot represents the future of cancer surgery. We now need your help to fund the world’s first-ever Robotic Surgery Fellowship so we can train the surgeons of the future, combining multi-discipline expertise with the latest technology.
The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity needs to raise £875,000 to train one robotic surgeon each year for the next 10 years. It needs £80,000 to launch the fellowship and to train its first super surgeon in 2015. Each year, we will need to raise a similar amount to ensure the programme continues, so that more patients can benefit from this pioneering approach to surgery.


How it works – pushing the boundaries in robotics

Traditionally surgeons have one area of expertise, either one organ or a small group of organs.  Cancer is not restricted by such boundaries and can spread to neighbouring organs. When this is the case, a number of surgeons have to be involved in one operation.

The first of its kind in the world, the Super Surgeon Fellowship will develop a more effective model by training surgeons on three different types of cancer – urological, gynaecological and colorectal, so they can operate on tumours anywhere in the pelvic and abdominal region – as well as expertise in robotic surgery.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best surgeons in the world. This has broadened my skills and benefitted the patients I operate on.”

Mr Pardeep Kumar, Consultant Urological Surgeon and Robotic Surgery Lead for The Royal Marsden


If a cancer spreads from the prostate to the bladder, the surgeon will be able to operate across both specialities. This reduces the need for further surgery and for several surgeons to be involved – meaning less complex, more efficient procedures and a speedier recovery for the patient.


Next generation of surgeons

The dual console system of the new robot allows the trainee to operate from one set of controls whilst the lead surgeon is able to observe and follow the procedure from a second set. The lead surgeon can override the controls at any time, so the operation maintains complete patient safety throughout.

As well as enabling consultant surgeons to supervise the trainees during live surgery, at no risk to the patient, the new robot also features a virtual reality simulator, which gives trainee surgeons the opportunity to practise techniques without having a patient present.


Radically reduced patient pain and recovery time.

In 2007, The Royal Marsden was one of the first NHS hospitals in the UK to bring the da Vinci S surgical robot into clinical practice. Our surgeons see their work in close detail via 3D magnified images at the robot’s console and manipulate robotic arms to make microscopic incisions. The robot allows for tiny movements, removes all human tremor, and the ‘hand’ can rotate 360 degrees – all of which enables far greater accuracy and control compared to open surgery.

The average recovery time from traditional surgeries is three months, however, robotic surgery reduces this to just four to six weeks. There is often less blood loss and far less pain, as well as reduced scarring due to the much smaller entry holes into the body. Ultimately, for our patients this means that their operations are more successful, and that they are able to go home sooner and get back to their normal life quicker.

Interestingly, robots also help our surgeons to have a longer working life. Open surgery is very physical work, and many surgeons retire early due to shoulder or back problems. Robots do all the heavy work for them, ensuring that more patients can benefit from their expertise over the years.