07:18pm Monday 01 June 2020

Pioneering robotic surgery for throat cancer


Leading head and neck surgeons carried out the robotic surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, to remove cancers of the tonsil, base of tongue and the larynx (voice box) on the same day – the first time this has been carried out in the country.

Microscopic examination has confirmed that the cancers have been completely removed and the patients are recovering well.

Mr Vinidh Paleri who is a Consultant in Head and Neck Surgery within the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University, used a £2m da Vinci robot for the surgery.

The robot is designed to carry out complex surgery with the surgeons operating the system from a console using joysticks to control tiny robotic arms.

Mr Paleri, explains how Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) can help: “The minimally invasive TORS approach means that we can carry out surgery via the mouth, using less operating time, reducing the impact on speech and swallowing, and patients have been able to leave hospital much more quickly. It also reduces the need for and the dose of radiation therapy in these patients.”

Working alongside fellow Consultant in Head and Neck Surgery and Honorary Clinical Lecturer, Mr David Meikle, Mr Paleri found the new technique reduces complications and speeds up recovery time.

He added: “TORS will dramatically improve the way we treat head and neck cancer patients in future. It allows us to remove tumours and treat non-cancerous conditions affecting often very tricky to get to areas, without the need for major surgery.

“The alternative can mean ear-to-ear incisions across the throat, or in some cases splitting the jaw, resulting in speech and swallowing problems.”

The UK has seen a 51% increase in this cancer between 1989 and 2006, and as the rate of some types of throat cancer continues to increase, this procedure will become ever more important.

Read the story of patient, Alan Newstead.

(Picture features the Da Vinci robot during an operation)




Key Facts:

  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University
  • We rank in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide
  • Amongst our peers Newcastle is:
    • 10th in the UK for student satisfaction
    • In the UK’s top 12 for research power in Science and Engineering
  • 93% of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating (HEFCE 2012)
  • We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing and Health, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
  • Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011
  • Our International students put Newcastle University in world’s top 12 (ISB 2011)

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