23/03/2012 10:24 GMT | Updated 23/05/2012 10:12 BST

Cancer Patient To Have Prostate Removed By Robot Is First In Britain

A cancer patient will be the first in Britain to have his prostate removed using a hand-held robot today.

Stuart Ellis, 52, a structural engineer from Cheadle Hulme, will undergo the revolutionary operation at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

The device allows the surgeon to combine the touch and feel of traditional surgery with the greater accuracy and dexterity of articulating instruments, according to the hospital.

It is said to provide greater flexibility than the human wrist, and also allows more precise stitching for better recovery. The instrument tip moves in multiple directions to operate in areas that are difficult to approach, giving the surgeon better manoeuvrability and less fatigue than when using rigid keyhole surgery instruments.

The hospital said it will enable more surgeons to quickly achieve the highest possible standards, not only in prostate surgery but also gynaecology, urology and gastrointestinal surgery.

Neil Oakley, the leading urology surgeon at Stepping Hill, who is undertaking the operation, said: "Our team is very excited about this latest technology and it's an honour to be the first in Britain to carry out a prostatectomy using this device.

"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."

Mr Ellis, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month, said: "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.

"This illness seems to have affected so many close family and friends, it's great to feel involved in the fightback, in however small a way. 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."

The motorised hand-held surgical instrument is said to cost around 95% less than current larger robots used over the last few years to perform laparoscopic or keyhole surgery - each said to cost about £1.8m.

Mr Oakley added: "The cost is also an extremely important factor and will hopefully mean that patients across the country can benefit from this surgical advancement."

The full name of the new device is the Kymerax precision-drive articulating surgical system, developed by the Japanese Terumo corporation.