A Chichester man has become one of the first people in the world to undergo a pioneering type of robotic surgery which is set to transform the lives of those at risk of kidney failure.
Terry Iddenden is one of the first to benefit from the innovative procedure at Guy’s Hospital in London.
He suffered severe pains in his upper abdominal area before being diagnosed with condition retroperitoneal fibrois (RPF) nearly two years ago and had stents inserted.
Patients with RPF can develop kidney failure because scar tissue forms around their ureters – the tubes which pass urine from the kidneys to the bladder – blocking them from working.
Urological surgeons used Guy’s and St Thomas’ two ‘da Vinci’ surgical robots to treat the first 40 patients in a radical procedure, know as robotic ureterolysis.
Surgeons use the robots to precisely snip away at the scar tissue, freeing the tubes of blockages and allowing them to drain properly.
Terry, a 49-year-old father of two, said: “I hated having the stents – they made me pass blood and they would irritate my bladder so I’d need the toilet constantly.
“I felt like an old man needing to get up to use the loo seven or eight times a night. They were extremely uncomfortable so I became irritable, which affected my partner Simone too.”
After researching the condition online, Terry was told about the procedure and underwent tests to find out if he was suitable for it.
He said: “I wanted to get rid of the stents and stop the condition progressing without having open surgery so it sounded like a fantastic option. I am self-employed so a faster recovery also appealed to me.”
Terry had the procedure last August and four weeks later had his stents removed.
He said: “Being able to function without having to plan your life around toilet routes is amazing.
“After two very hard years with stents it was fantastic to get rid of them and I’ve had no problems since the operation.”
The new procedure is one of the latest additions to Guy’s robotic surgery programme.
The hospital carries out the most robotic operations in the UK with around 450 cases a year, including prostate, bladder and kidney removal.
During a procedure, surgeons control the robot’s four arms from a console in the same room.
They look down a small camera on the end of one arm to see inside the patient and the machine gives them a 3D HD view while they operate, eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement.
Ms Archie Fernando, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We have carried out the robotic procedure on nearly 40 patients and are very excited about the results.
“After the surgery patients are able to have the stents removed and their kidneys are able to drain well, which can have a huge positive impact on their lives.
“Ureterolysis can be performed by open surgery too, but patients typically need to stay in hospital for a week afterwards, compared with one or two days after the robotic procedure.
“They experience less pain and blood loss is also reduced when using robotics, probably because the equipment gives surgeons 3D vision which allows better identification of the space between the ureters and the scar tissue so we can make incisions in exactly the right place, increasing precision and reducing risks.
“All removed scar tissue is preserved for research into RPF, with the patients’ consent, and we are the only place worldwide to collect these samples in a dedicated retroperitoneal fibrosis biobank.”
Patients with RPF are usually treated with long-term stents (internal tubes), which are inserted into the ureters to stop the tubes getting blocked and have to be changed every six months.
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