38 New Year, New You Innovative healthcare & specialist clinics

surgical robot Versius. Built by Cambridge-based CMR


The future of health

Robotics are already changing surgeries and patient care, with both tech and artificial intelligence set to grow across the healthcare industry. Words: Jonathan Keane

Surgical, the robot has four arms to handle and manoeuvre utensils through surgeries and is controlled by a surgeon aided by 3D visuals on a screen. It’s just the latest innovation in robotics to join an expanding field of technology in surgery and healthcare. Surgical robots have been around since the early 2000s, but ever-evolving developments in robotics have made the tech more ubiquitous. Healthcare companies are

pumping millions of pounds into the research and development of complex technologies. Senhance, built by TransEnterix,

is another surgical robot; it can be controlled using eye-tracking technology. Tis year, it submitted a major technological update for regulatory approval that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically move the camera for the surgeon. Te ‘machine vision technology’

will anticipate what area the surgeon is moving their utensil to and will guide the camera in that direction unprompted. While robots have become more

sophisticated, human control is still needed. No robots carry out full surgeries on their own. Johnson & Johnson’s Verb Surgical, though, is combining data analytics with surgical machines

n 2020, the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh became one of the first in Europe to deploy the new

Promotional Content • Saturday 9th January 2021

that could bring greater automation. Outside of surgery, interest in robotics continues to grow, including the use of AI to speed up patient diagnoses and for patient care. Pepper, a humanoid robot

designed by Softbank that uses AI to interact with people, is being tested

at a hospital in Paris to allow families to ‘visit’ their loved ones in intensive care. It stands at the patient’s bedside, interacts with them and carries out a video call with the family to help create some form of communication while isolated during the pandemic.


MIND-READER WRISTBANDS AND VR REHAB The CTRL-kit detects electrical impulses moving down the arm to the hand almost as soon as the wearer thinks about a movement — benefiting those rehabilitating after a stroke or amputation, as well as, in a day-to-day context, smartphone users. Meanwhile, Immersive Rehab uses VR to expand the range and type of exercises open to neurological rehab patients.

ANTI-VIRAL INVENTIONS Trials have shown that a coronavirus- killing ventilator, which uses ultra-vi- olet light and was devised by the UK’s Dr Rhys Thomas, prevents patients from needing an ICU ventilator. With airborne pandemics a pressing concern, a raft of similar inventions are likely in the future.

PORTABLE ULTRASOUNDS Medical imaging could become more accessible around the globe, thanks

to gadgets such as the handheld Butterfly iQ, invented by Yale genetics researcher Jonathan Rothberg. Connecting to an app, it’s 50 times cheaper than a hospital ultrasound.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE In big news for lung cancer sufferers, whose symptoms are often only detected at a late and hence more dangerous stage, Google Health’s AI system picked up 5% more cases and produced 11% fewer false positives than a control group of six radiologists.

BIG DATA Anonymous big data will inform drug development and lifestyle studies. There are currently three million volunteers fitted with wearables contributing to medical and wellbeing advances, thanks to a health data-gathering tool created by California-based company Evidation Health.


Looking after your breast health in 2021

At the start of this new year, it’s more important than ever to keep healthy and to look out for signs that things may not be quite right. This applies to breast examination, just as it does to any other aspect of your health


reast cancer remains the most common cancer in women and now affects one in eight

women in the UK. Early diagnosis and advances in treatment have meant that survival from breast cancer is better than ever, but the UK still trails behind many other countries including Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Miss Iman Azmy (consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon working in Chesterfield and Sheffield) regu- larly

reminds her patients of the

importance of ‘breast awareness’. Her message is, “No one should be compla- cent about their breast health.” She goes on to say, “If you notice a new lump or area of hardness in the breast, then you should seek urgent medical advice. Other signs to look for include a blood-stained nipple discharge, changes to the contour of the breast, such an indentation, and new inver- sion of the nipple.” Te first 6 months of 2020 saw a 28% reduction in the number of referrals

Aesthetic breast surgery Cosmetic breast surgery has been a popular option for women over the last few years. Whether choosing to go bigger (breast augmentation) or smaller (breast reduction), surgery can have a major effect on confidence, self-esteem and quality of life. “It’s essential that women do

as must research as possible into cosmetic surgery before committing to it” says Iman. “Particularly for women considering breast augmen- tation, they must be sure that they’ve received all the information they need in order to make an informed choice. Tere are long-term conse- quences that have to be weighed up very carefully, long before signing on the dotted line”. Te decision to go ahead with cosmetic breast surgery should never be rushed. Iman recom- mends finding a surgeon you can

Miss Iman Azmy, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon.

trust with the right qualifications and experience. “If something doesn’t feel right,

there’s no harm in seeking a second opinion,” she concludes.

Miss Iman Azmy, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon.

to breast clinics in England as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, as well as a shortfall of 4000 cancers compared to the period January to June 2019. Iman urges patients not to be fearful about coming forward if they have concerns about their breast health. “We have had to adapt to this new era with additional safety measures including social distancing. Irrespective of fears related to the pandemic, if you find a breast lump don’t ignore it.”

“Irrespective of fears related to the pandemic, if you find a breast lump don’t ignore it”


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