GRACE Sponsors Annual BIARGS Conference

 GRACE Chair, Mr Simon Butler-Manuel

GRACE Chair, Mr Simon Butler-Manuel

GRACE Chair,  Mr Simon Butler–Manuel and Conference Secretary Dr Kavitha Madhuri hosted the 8th Annual Scientific Meeting of the British & Irish Association of Robotic Gynaecological Surgeons (BIARGS) this year at the University of Surrey. 

BIARGS was established in 2010 by leading surgeons in the UK and Ireland keen to develop robotic surgery in gynaecology - including surgery for both gynaecological cancers and for benign conditions such as hysterectomy, surgery for fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic reconstructive surgery.  In  2010 The Royal Surrey County Hospital hosted live robotic surgery via video-link to the RCOG for the BIARGS inaugural meeting. This year Guildford hosted BIARGS biggest meeting to date, and one which proved to be a huge success.   

The two key themes to this meeting were clinical training of surgeons, theatre nurses and first assistants, and secondly embedding robotic surgery into mainstream clinical practice.

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Guildford is now a renowned centre of excellence for minimally invasive surgery and training and the Department of Gynaecological Oncology is the UK’s recognised Epicentre for robotic surgery led by Mr Simon Butler-Manuel as its Director. GRACE was instrumental in launching gynaecological robotic surgery by contributing £125,000 towards the purchase costs and leading a campaign amongst the other RSCH sister charities to support the project.  Building on the success of the project, RSCH now has two da Vinci Si surgical robotic systems each equipped with two surgeon consoles, enabling training and joint operating between two surgeons. Visiting surgeons regularly attend from the UK, mainland Europe and beyond for training and to experience the successful team work in robotic surgery at the hospital. 

The department offers robotically delivered, minimally invasive surgery, most commonly for cancers of the womb and cervix. Robotic surgery enables many more women to benefit from enhanced recovery, short hospital stay and fewer post-operative problems. Over 1000 women have now benefitted from this investment in technology and the vast majority of women stay only one night in hospital after major cancer surgery which is an incredible bonus to the overstretched NHS. 

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As part of the BIARGS Conference we had a live surgery session with visiting surgeons from the UK and Europe attending main theatres at RSCH to observe a variety of complex robotic cancer operations performed by Mr Butler-Manuel & Mr Anil Tailor. This was followed by a surgical technology workshop and wet-lab, held at the Veterinary Pathology Centre. This workshop was aimed at achieving competence and accreditation in the safe set-up and use of laparoscopic & robotic equipment as a theatre nurse or first assistant, and safe use of the PlasmaJet™ system which is another innovative surgical technology pioneered by the Department in Guildford.

The main two day meeting was 19-20th April 2018 and the meeting was facilitated by an excellent national and international faculty from across the globe. The international faculty was headed by Prof Arnold Advincula from Columbia University, New York, past president of the AAGL, and many would say father of robotic gynaecologic surgery. Prof Céline Chauleur from St. Etienne in France reflected on their use over the last year using the new ‘Senhance’ European surgical robot, while Mark Slack, Consultant Gynaecologist at Addenbrokes Hospital in Cambridge and Medical Director of CMR (Cambridge Medical Robotics) enticed the audience with news of a lower cost British alternative robotic surgical platform which is currently in the late stages of development.