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Robotic surgeon successful in first prostate snip

Low-cost robot could save NHS millions

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A man suffering from cancer has become the first Briton to have his prostate removed by robotic surgery.

Stuart Ellis, from Cheadle Hulme, had his prostate removed by surgeons at Stepping Hill Hospital in Greater Manchester using a handheld robotic device called Kymerax, which is used via keyhole surgery to deal with gastrointestinal, urological, and gynecological conditions. The robot has an articulated tip that can outperform human doctors, according to the surgeons at Stepping Hill.

"It's an honor to be the first in Britain to carry out a prostatectomy using this device," Neil Oakley, the hospital's leading urology surgeon, told the BBC. "It's the fusion of maintaining the feel and touch during an operation with the greater robotic articulation that makes it so special. This robot can do things not physically possibly with a human wrist and gives you the best of both worlds."

Flexibility is just part of the reason for the attractiveness of the device. Unlike other robotic surgeons, the Kymerax is relatively cheap, costing thousands rather than millions of pounds, and operational costs are not very high. This kind of saving is just what the cash-strapped NHS needs.

"Being told you've been diagnosed with cancer is not a pleasant experience, but it's good to know something positive for other people is coming out of this," said Mr. Ellis. "If this means other cancer patients in the future can get quicker treatment with the most advanced technology, then I'm proud to be part of it." ®

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