Bowel cancer patients from across north Wales can now benefit from faster recovery following surgery, thanks to the introduction of state-of-the-art robotic technology.

Following the successful rollout within gynaecology, general surgeons across Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are now using the Versius Surgical Robotic System at Ysbyty Gwynedd to treat bowel cancer in patients suitable for this kind of surgery. The technology allows surgeons to complete complex cancer operations using minimally invasive keyhole surgery. Patients experience very little post-operative pain and are less likely to develop complications such as infections, while many are able to return home more quickly.

Consultant colorectal surgeon Steve Dixon said: “Throughout my surgical training I sought opportunities to develop keyhole techniques and spent time working in high volume robotic centres to ensure I had the skills to offer the best results for our patients. It’s been a pleasure so far working closely with the robotic team, learning together and developing together, ultimately seeing our patients benefit.

“Robotic surgery allows surgeons to push boundaries of quality and what is possible, new developments within the technology are arriving almost monthly which makes this an incredibly exciting time to be working for the health board.

“Nationally, bowel cancer rates are on the rise, innovation and progress such as bowel cancer screening and the Robotic programme will help us achieve a cure for more patients.”

Paul Fletcher, 55, from Minffordd, returned home just four days after major surgery. He said: “From the beginning when I met my surgeon Mr Lala and the team I couldn’t ask for better care and support. I was amazed this technology was available, it’s incredible how things have moved on. The benefit of having this type of surgery worked for me as I was up and about very quickly and home within four days.

“I would like to thank the team at Ysbyty Gwynedd, from the cleaners on the ward to the nurses who were all fantastic.

“I was also picked up by the bowel screening programme, which at the time I’d never heard of. I was very lucky and since this has happened to me I’ve been encouraging everyone I know who is eligible to take the screening test to do it – if it’s picked up early something can be done so it’s so important people do the test.”

Anil Lala, colorectal surgeon and robotic lead for the colorectal team, said: “The introduction of robotic surgery for bowel cancer patients is an exciting step forward.

“We have four surgeons trained in the technology, myself and Baber Chaudhary in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Sheik Rehman from Glan Clwyd Hospital and Mr Dixon from Wrexham Maelor Hospital. This allows us to ensure we offer this service for patients from across north Wales. It also benefits our operating theatre staff, who will be trained on cutting-edge technology to drive forward outcomes and recovery times for our patients.

“Robotic surgery has many advantages compared to open surgery; less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery and we have seen some very positive results so far.”