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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 02:03 GMT 03:03 UK
Robo-docs boost London hospitals
Dr Parv Sains with "Sister Mary"
Patients at St Mary's Hospital in London are being seen by a medical robot as part of a new trial.

"Sister Mary" glides between beds and allows the controlling doctor to visually examine and communicate with a patient from anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, a patient at London's Guy's Hospital has recently undergone a live kidney transplant surgery carried out by a robot - the UK's first.

The da Vinci robot has also been used to remove bladders and repair hearts.

Remote care

But this most recent surgery takes the da Vinci robot's progress in Britain to a new level.

Mr Prokar Dasgupta, a consultant urologist at Guy's, one of the two UK hospitals to have such a robot, the other being St Mary's, said: "It is a milestone.

"Removing a transplant kidney is a more precise operation than taking out one that is diseased because you have to look after the blood supply to the organ, and the blood vessels and urethra must be treated with a lot more respect.

"What we have achieved is a significant step, but one that is still undergoing scientific evaluation. We have to do more of these operations."

Many senior doctors with skills and knowledge are required to be in the same places at once. This is a solution
Dr Parv Sains
The Remote Presence Robots being used at St Mary's, dubbed "Sister Mary", are aimed at helping doctors see and treat patients when they cannot physically be there.

The doctor uses a joystick to control the robot and can view the patient, their records and any test results from afar.

The patient sees the doctor's image on the robot's face and they can have a two-way conversation with their physician.

While the robots will never replace all doctors on ward rounds, project leader Parv Sains, who is a surgical specialist registrar at St Mary's, said it could help relieve some of the current strains on the NHS.

"Many senior doctors with skills and knowledge are required to be in the same places at once.

"This is a solution in potentially providing their expertise from a remote location."

See the new robots in action on hospital wards

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