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Surgical team at Royal Stoke carries out record six hysterectomies in one day thanks to surgical robot

A surgical team at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) has carried out six hysterectomy procedures in one day.

In a believed European and even world first, the team led by Mr Zeiad El-Gizawy, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Royal Stoke University Hospital was able to complete the day’s record caseload using a state-of-the-art surgical robot.

As well as speeding up the time required to carry out an operation, using the ‘Da Vinci Xi’ robot reduces post-operative complications and reduces recovery time.

Mr El-Gizawy said: “Using the Da Vinci Xi robot provides more precision, which means patients recover more quickly, are discharged quicker and beds are freed up. The hinged, wrist-like robotic instruments on the robot means surgeons can reach awkward parts of the anatomy better than using handheld laparoscopic instruments used in traditional keyhole surgery.

“Using the robot’s console, I’m able to do six cases sitting down with my shoulders back and relaxed. It’s very difficult to do six cases laparoscopically when I have to contort my body into all sorts of positions and end up with chronic shoulder and back pain which is a big problem amongst surgeons. Without robots I could probably do three or four- anymore and the surgery would suffer because I would be completely exhausted by the end of it."

The six cases carried out on the Da Vinci Xi included endometriosis and adenomyosis.

Emily Woodhams-Beazeley, 42, from the Staffordshire Moorlands was diagnosed with adenomyosis in May 2023, the first she’d heard of her condition. She was one of the six patients who had a hysterectomy at the Royal Stoke on the one day.

She said: “It was amazing to finally have a diagnosis. For 25 years I had been told I was overdramatic and that all women have periods. I was in such pain that sometimes it was unmanageable to go out. And my reproductive system was so enlarged that it pressed on my bladder so it was embarrassing as well. But I was repeatedly told I was fine.

“When I met Mr El-Gizawy he looked at my scan for five seconds and turned around and said how I must feel terrible. To be validated was incredible and very emotional.”

UHNM figures show 74 per cent of patients operated on using the Da Vinci Xi robot are sent home within 24 hours compared to 62 per cent manually. Just 2.6 per cent experienced complications compared to 7.9 per cent manually.

Speaking after recovering from her procedure Emily said: “I’m going for little walks every day. There is a little bit of discomfort but it’s nothing compared to all the years of trauma. I feel at peace because when I read up on my surgeon and the whole gynaecology unit at Royal Stoke and I thought I was in the right place for the condition I’d got. For me it’s as though a big reset button has been pressed and I can now get on with my life free from pain.”

UHNM is one of the leading centres in the UK with expertise in offering robotic surgical procedures. Since the inception of the robotic programme in 2014, almost 2,500 major robotic surgical procedures have been undertaken by surgeons in Urology, Colorectal, and Gynaecology.

Dr Matthew Lewis, Medical Director said: “It’s amazing that the Da Vinci robot has enabled our surgeons to achieve six hysterectomies in one day. This is good news for our patients as our waiting times are now less, we have quicker procedures, fewer complications, and a shorter length of stay.”

A team of twelve people are actively involved in each procedure including surgeons, anaesthetists, practitioners, nurses, and care assistants.

Dr El-Gizawy added: “I could be the fastest surgeon in the world but if I didn’t have an experienced team I would end up only doing three operations a day. I’m very lucky to be working with such brilliant people, it’s a privilege.

“From a concentration point of view, I think six is our limit. If there’s any complexity, we’ll go down to five as you need a buffer if anything goes wrong.”

Hayley Flanagan, 32, from Stafford was also amongst the six patients operated on my Mr El-Gizawy and his team on the one day.

She said: “I started having really painful periods in 2012. It was so painful that eventually I couldn’t move. I was bloated, with stabbing, twisting pain. I couldn’t even sit down.”

Hayley was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2016 and has previously undergone two other operations to remove growths and separate her bladder from her ovary after they had fused together. She had delayed a hysterectomy, the most effective treatment in her case, because she wanted children. Now she and husband Kevin, 42, have six-year-old Rhys and two-year-old Emma.

She added: “I have two beautiful children but am still sad because I’m grieving for something else, something I know I can’t do. But I know it’s the right decision for a pain-free life.

“I had one night in hospital and since then there’s been good progress. There’s a little bit of pain but it’s just a mild stomach ache that comes and goes and my husband has been taking excellent care of me.”