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Pioneering augmented reality system helps prostate cancer patient

An innovative technology which allows experts to provide remote assistance to medical teams anywhere in the world has been used for the first time during robotic prostate cancer surgery.

The novel platform, known as Proximie, was used during part of the robot-assisted procedure, which took place at Guy’s Hospital last week.

It was also the first time that the system had been used at Guy’s and St Thomas’. The procedure was filmed and will be shown as part of the UK’s entrepreneurship programme presentation during the British Association of Urological Surgeon’s (BAUS) conference later this month.

Professor Prokar Dasgupta, honorary consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s, instructed urology registrar Warren Lo through the platform from another part of the Trust while he started the robotic procedure to remove the prostate of a man with prostate cancer.

While Warren used the console to control the robot’s movements, Professor Dasgupta’s voice could be heard giving guidance through the platform and his hand could be seen on the screen showing Warren where to make incisions and where to avoid.

Professor Dasgupta, who is Professor or Robotic Surgery and Urological Innovation at King’s College London, was in control of the procedure in the same way he would be if he was in the operating theatre. The procedure was live-streamed to him through the platform, which can be uploaded to any device such as a tablet or laptop in any location.

He said: “Proximie is a game changer. It means that irrespective of the patient’s location, they get the best expertise available even in a place where that’s not always possible. Ultimately this means that procedures are safer than ever and that patients will receive the best care possible.

“The technology means that I felt like I was in the room – I could see clearly what was going on and what the team was doing. Proximie has been used to help treat patients in war zones before, which shows how directing medical care remotely can be lifesaving.”

Ian Titheridge, 50 from Bromley in Kent, was diagnosed with prostate cancer around seven weeks ago. It was detected by chance after going to his GP about an injury he had sustained while playing rugby.

Ian, a BT engineer, said: “It was a shock to find out I had it but it was caught early and contained.

“I was told about the technology that would be used – I thought it was amazing that it allowed an expert to lead a surgical procedure taking place in a different location. I hope it makes things easier for people in future.

“I knew robotic surgery makes healing time faster, involves making smaller incisions and is very precise so I was happy to have it. I was discharged the next day and my recovery is going well. I shouldn’t need any further treatment and now I’m aiming to be back on the rugby pitch for the first game of the season in September.”

Proximie was co-founded by Nadine Hachach-Haram, a specialist registrar in the plastic surgery team at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

To find out more about Proximie, visit www.proximie.com and follow Proximie on Twitter at @ProximieAR

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