Doctors at a Leeds hospital have let the public have a go at carrying out keyhole surgery.
But luckily the operations weren’t being done for real – it was part of a showcase of hi-tech gadgets being used in treatment.
As well as operating on a virtual patient, visitors to the event at St James’s Hospital could also use special touch technology to feel a virtual tumour.
They could also find cancer cells on a giant wall of screens.
Andy Wilson, research engagement manager at the Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre at St James’s, organised the event.
He said: “The day is great for us to show off some of the latest tools and state of the art technology that we already use to benefit our cancer patients and find out more about what puts Leeds at the forefront of cancer treatment and research.”
As well as the keyhole surgery, the event at the St James’s Institute of Oncology showed off systems designed by the University of Leeds’s Surgical Technologies research group.
One simulates a cancerous tumour in a piece of liver tissue and visitors used a special tactile feedback technology tool to feel the ‘virtual’ tissue and find the hidden tumour.
The system is being used to investigate how surgeons can use the information it provides.
Visitors also tried out an Instrumented Grasper, a modified version of a tool used in keyhole surgery to hold and move tissues.
By attaching sensors to the device, experts can work out how hard the tissue is being held and reduce tissue damage that can occur during surgery.
Unfortunately a planned appearance by a £1.5m surgical robot called ‘Robbie’ was unable to go ahead.
Patients in Leeds already benefit from two similar robots which are used by surgeons who sit a few feet away from the patient and use precise hand movements to control a set of robotic arms inside the patient’s body.
Bowel cancer surgeon Prof David Jayne, said: “It has been very exciting to see the emergence of robotic surgery and I have been using it on patients in Leeds very successfully since 2006.”