In a first, robot removes a 2.3-inch cancerous tumor from a 61-year-old's throat

Using the Versius surgical robot permitted a keyhole, or minimal access surgical approach, in an otherwise open surgery.
Deena Theresa
Versius at work.
Versius at work.

Versius/CMR Surgical 

A robot at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH), United Kingdom, saved the life of a 61-year-old patient by removing a cancerous tumor from their throat, in what can be called a first in the country.

Grandfather Martin Nugent is in high spirits after a surgical team comprising Gloucestershire Royal Hospital surgeons Simon Higgs and Steve Hornby employed Versius, a modern, cutting-edge robot from CMR Surgical, to operate earlier in July.

"To have been given a second chance to see my grandchildren, my children, and my wife has meant so much to me. The team at the GRH saved my life, and I’ll be forever grateful to them for doing so," Nugent told Gloucestershire Live in an interview.

GRH was the first hospital in the UK to begin an Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) program with the Versius robot, which was installed last year.

In a first, robot removes a 2.3-inch cancerous tumor from a 61-year-old's throat
Versius operating on a patient.

The Versius robot allowed a minimal access surgical approach

According to Gloucestershire Live, the GI surgeons successfully performed an esophagectomy - they removed a 2.3-inch (6 cm) tumor from Nugent’s esophagus. Once the tumor had been removed, Nugent's stomach had to be raised and reconnected to the esophagus.

Earlier, operating on the esophagus, a muscular tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach, was performed through open surgery. Employing the Versius surgical robot permitted a keyhole or minimal access surgical approach.

Ana Raduc, general manager of CMR Surgical, said: "It’s great to see the teams from multiple specialties at GRH utilizing Versius for complex cancer procedures like this one. We know that minimal access surgery improves outcomes for patients and can lead to a quicker recovery, and surgical robotics helps to enable a minimal access approach."

Minimal access surgery also creates smaller incisions, along with reduced postoperative pain, complications, and scarring.

In a first, robot removes a 2.3-inch cancerous tumor from a 61-year-old's throat
The Versius robot.

Versius can perform routine surgeries and complex procedures

"It was important for us to bring in Versius to the hospital so that patients having both routine surgeries like cholecystectomies as well as more complex procedures benefit from the precision and accuracy that robotic surgery brings," said Higgs, one of the surgeons.

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"Upper GI is an extremely busy department, and adopting Versius signifies a new era for the specialty as many more patients will receive minimal access surgery and be treated with this high-quality technology," he continued.

Nugent, who is based in Cheltenham, knows that he is the first patient in the UK to receive care this way. "It is astonishing really that this kind of thing is happening here in Gloucester, particularly when you think of big cities like London or Manchester or Oxford," he said. "Last year, I was in so much pain I couldn’t eat any Christmas dinner. I lost three stone in weight quite quickly. I’m thinking we’ll make up for it this year, and I’m just so grateful to be given the opportunity to enjoy another Christmas," he added.