Surgeons have pioneered a new technology which allows specialists to virtually transport themselves into any clinic around the world to help doctors during consultations or surgery.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital was the first to use the software during a robotic cancer operation – and the person who is driving the project was this week honoured by the Queen.
Urology registrar Warren Lo operated the robot from the console to remove the prostate of a patient with prostate cancer – while being watched by and with the help of Professor Prokar Dasgupta, in another part of the hospital, using the Proximie software on a screen.
The cutting edge platform was used during part of the robot-assisted procedure, which took place at Guy’s Hospital last week.
The procedure was filmed and will be shown as part of the UK’s entrepreneurship programme presentation during the British Association of Urological Surgeons’ (BAUS) conference later this month.
While Mr Lo used the console to control the robot’s movements, Professor Dasgupta’s voice could be heard giving guidance through the platform and his hand could be seen on the screen showing Mr Lo where to make incisions and where to avoid. Professor Dasgupta, who is Professor or Robotic Surgery and Urological Innovation at King’s College London, was in control of the procedure in the same way he would be if he was in the operating theatre. The procedure was live-streamed to him through the platform, which can be uploaded to any device, like a tablet or laptop in any location with a Wifi connection.
He said: “Proximie is a game changer. It means that irrespective of the patient’s location, they get the best expertise available even in a place where that’s not always possible. Ultimately this means that procedures are safer than ever and that patients will receive the best care possible.
“The technology means that I felt like I was in the room – I could see clearly what was going on and what the team was doing. Proximie has been used to help treat patients in war zones before, which shows how directing medical care remotely can be lifesaving.”
Ian Titheridge, 50 from Bromley in Kent, was diagnosed with prostate cancer around seven weeks ago. It was detected by chance after going to his GP about an injury he had sustained while playing rugby.
Ian, a BT engineer, said: “It was a shock to find out I had it but it was caught early and contained.
“I was told about the technology that would be used – I thought it was amazing that it allowed an expert to lead a surgical procedure taking place in a different location. I hope it makes things easier for people in future.
“I knew robotic surgery makes healing time faster, involves making smaller incisions and is very precise so I was happy to have it. I was discharged the next day and my recovery is going well. I shouldn’t need any further treatment and now I’m aiming to be back on the rugby pitch for the first game of the season in September.”
Proximie was co-founded by Nadine Hachach-Haram, a specialist registrar in the plastic surgery team at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who received a British Empire Medal this week in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
San Diego born and raised Ms Hachach-Haram explained the technology in a Ted Talk in New Orleans last year, which has already been viewed 1,146,586 times.
To find out more about Proximie, visit www.proximie.com and follow Proximie on Twitter at @ProximieAR.