Seeing is believing – how new robotic surgery trials hope to provide a leap forward for head and neck cancer surgery
Peter Rhys Evans
One of the key attributes of a surgeon is to have steady hands and for head and neck surgeons this is of critical importance given the sensitive areas of the body in which they work. Now it has been announced that new robotic surgery techniques are to begin trials for head and neck cancer,and this says Oracle chairman and head and neck surgeon, ampoule Peter Rhys-Evans, is a significant step forward, not least for eliminating hand tremor.
“One of the problems for a head and neck cancer surgeon is in trying to reach the back of the throat or the base of the tongue to see and operate on the tumour. Whilst we use magnifying glasses and excellent lighting the ability to use a robot to access these difficult places will be of huge benefit to surgeons and patients alike.“
The trial robot has two cameras and is able to produce a three-dimensional, 360 degree image of the tumour at huge magnification. For the surgeon this means a degree of accuracy that has simply not been possible before.
Says Peter: “Using the robot it will be possible to excise tumours with such accuracy that we can take a sufficient margin of cancer tissue which could mean a reduction in the radio or chemotherapy required after surgery. It is hoped that using a combination of tried and tested laser treatment to excise the tumour and robotic surgery techniques there will be a significant leap forward for the success of surgery in the treatment of head and neck cancer.”
The multi-centre Pathos trial of robotic surgery began at the beginning of this year in the UK.