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Live streaming boosts robotic-assisted surgical training at NNUH

11 March 2022

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From Colney to Cologne. A new educational tool has been launched at NNUH, which can securely live stream surgery in Norfolk to the next generation of surgeons across the UK and Europe.

NNUH became the first hospital in the East of England to use Intuitive Telepresence to enable more surgeons to take the first steps in learning robotic-assisted surgery and be virtually present in NNUH Theatres.

The Urology team started robotic surgery at NNUH in 2017 and the Trust was the first hospital in the region to start robotic-assisted colorectal cancer surgery. We have expanded specialities to carry out robotic assisted minimally-invasive surgery in gynaecology, thoracic, ENT and general surgical procedures.

Robotic colorectal surgery is delivered by Irshad Shaikh, Ahmed El Hadi and James Hernon at NNUH and the colorectal surgery department welcomes visiting surgeons from across Europe.

The introduction of Intuitive Telepresence at our Trust means that interested professionals can follow a procedure in real-time, with patient consent, from anywhere in the world.

The technology allows live streaming to take place securely and it is possible for the surgeon and student to interact with each other during a procedure.

Mr Irshad Shaikh, Consultant Colorectal and lead Robotic Surgeon at NNUH, who helps train surgeons in robotic-assisted practice, said the new and efficient alternative for surgical observation avoided the need for surgeons to travel long distances.

“Case observation is the first step for surgeons who want to learn about robotic-assisted surgery before they start their training in a lab. If someone is in Ireland or Germany, it can be difficult to get to Norfolk. Telepresence allows them to watch on a laptop and ask questions.”

“Face-to-face learning is still preferred, but this suits busy lives, and this is another big step for our unit as a national and internationally renowned centre for robotic-assisted surgical training.”

David Marante, Regional Director at Intuitive UK and Ireland, said: “We were able to accelerate the development and roll out of Intuitive Telepresence to support surgeons and staff as they recover from the impact of the pandemic on their training ability and we’re delighted to see this continue and evolve into new and innovative ways of working across the NHS.

“It’s great to see that the expertise of the colorectal team at Norfolk and Norwich will be shared with more surgeons training to use da Vinci surgical systems as the team embraces our Intuitive Telepresence technology in their theatres.”

As part of the Trust’s vision to become a centre of excellence in robotic-assisted surgery, a training pilot programme has been devised by the NNUH Sir Thomas Browne Colorectal Unit, under supervision of Mr Shaikh and Intuitive, the pioneer of robotic-assisted surgery and makers of the da Vinci surgical systems. Currently, this is offered only at NNUH team for colorectal trainees by Mr Shaikh and Mr El-Hadi. With telepresence this can be further enhanced to East of England regional trainees too.

Robotic-assisted surgery offers increased precision for surgeons and potential benefits for patients, such as shorter length of stay in hospital and speedier recoveries.

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