1st September 2021 — Y7 pupils Daniel Keene, Jack Singh, Oliver Icely and Alex Northcott enjoyed a fascinating glimpse into the future as they learnt about innovative robotic instruments at Manchester Children’s Hospital. Under the watchful eye of Dr David Keene, Consultant Paediatric Urologist, they familiarised themselves with the Da-Vinci Robot, which is fully controlled by the surgeon. This new technology allows doctors to recreate the movements of the wrist, which have 7 degrees of freedom, compared to the current laparoscopic key hole instruments, which only give 2 degrees of freedom -forward/back and rotation.
The boys and their Technology Teacher, Mr Walker, were hosted by Children’s Urology Surgeons, who showcased the amazing technology to local healthcare professionals and hospital managers in the hospital boardroom. The hands-on experience reinforced the benefits that robotic surgery offers for children in the North West in terms of shorter recovery and less complications. The 3-D vision and precise wristed movements generated by the robotic controls contrasts with the non wristed movements and lack of depth perception with current standard laparoscopic instruments and 2-D vision.
Dr Keene said: ‘Surgeons undergo an intensive training course with 30 hours on the robotic simulator, two days in a “wet lab” and then mentoring for their first 10 cases. The cost of training three surgeons is £40,500. We continue to raise this money through Kidneys for Life (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/surgicalrobot) while the practical arrangements to secure access for children to the existing Da Vinci system in Wythenshawe continues. Our open sessions were a great success and there were lots of positive comments from hospital managers including: “This is amazing! I can’t believe the difference in precision and control”. School pupils were blown away by how well they could control the robotic arms with relatively little training.’
Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is the biggest children’s hospital in the UK. Robotic surgery is increasingly being offered to minors in Europe and the US as it improves patient outcomes. However, the only centres offering robotic surgery to children in the UK are Leeds and Chelsea & Westminster. This is despite five surgical robots currently in use within Greater Manchester NHS hospitals.