Grandmother one of first-ever robot lung patients

A grandmother has said she felt '˜privileged' to be one of the first people to have robot-assisted lung surgery.

Joy Barclay-Cooper, 74, and John Cooper from Worthing
Joy Barclay-Cooper, 74, and John Cooper from Worthing

Joy Barclay-Cooper, 74, from Broadwater, Worthing, started coughing up blood when she was on holiday in Spain last spring.

Tests at Worthing Hospital detected something on her right lung.

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But because it was in an awkward position it was not possible to carry out a normal biopsy to analyse what it was.

Mrs Barclay-Cooper was then referred to consultant chest surgeon Tom Routledge at Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, London.

Surgeons at the hospital recently started to perform robot-assisted procedures on lung tumours using two da Vinci surgical robots.

Joy said: “Mr Routledge explained that robotic surgery would be the best way to access the area in my lung so that the tissue could be removed and analysed.

“He was absolutely brilliant and told me all about the procedure so I felt comfortable and confident to have it.”

During a robotic procedure, surgeons control the robot’s four arms from a console in the same room as they look down a small camera on the end of one arm to see inside the patient. The machine gives them a 3D HD view while they operate, eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement, which leads to more accuracy and quicker stitching.

Mr Routledge, said: “Robotic surgery allows surgeons a larger degree of movement during an operation than conventional keyhole surgery because the robot’s arms have elbows and wrists, whereas traditional keyhole surgery is like operating with chopsticks.

“Due to the extra precision the robots give us, we are able to carry out more complex procedures and patients should experience less pain, are able to go home sooner and make a faster recovery. Robotic lung surgery is mainly used to remove cancerous or benign tumours.”

Mrs Barclay-Cooper said: “I feel privileged to have had this cutting-edge surgery. I only had minor incisions so the healing process was fantastic. I would truly recommend it. Shortly afterwards the team from Guy’s told me that everything worrying has been removed with a clear margin, so I don’t need any further treatment. It’s marvellous.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals in London carry out the most robotic operations in the UK with around 450 cases a year. Typically these are prostate, bladder and kidney removal.

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