First Northwick Park patient to have prostate removed during day surgery
Mike O’Brien of Pinner had never spent a night in hospital as an adult, and when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 61 he was not looking forward to what could be a lengthy and painful operation.
But the surgery, carried out at Northwick Park Hospital by consultant urological surgeon Giles Hellawell, was both pain free and performed without an overnight stay.
The first laparascopic prostatectomy undertaken as a day case at the hospital demonstrated that, with the right patient, this operation can mean the patient returning home the same day.
Mr O'Brien picks up the story. “After two or three years of blood tests which proved negative I was tested last summer and a tiny trace of cancer was found. I was referred to Mr Hellawell by my GP and he offered me a number of alternative options, one of which was removal of the complete prostate.
“I made the decision with my wife that if the organ was completely removed that might kill the cancer, so decided to go for that option. I was apprehensive about it, but I had a pre-op discussion with the hospital nurses, who were extremely helpful and reassured me no end.
“The Macmillan nurse, Lauren Wiggins, who saw me when I was diagnosed and on later occasions too, was brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble for her and if I rang for advice she always rang back.
“I was expecting to be in overnight, but Mr Hellawell rang my wife the day before and said: we’re going to do something different – it would be a day operation. I was quite happy and felt totally and utterly in the hands of the hospital.
“I arrived at Northwick Park at 7.30 in the morning and when they gave me the anaesthetic I was not convinced it would put me out. I kept thinking – I’m wide awake, nothing’s happening – and then, like an express train, it hit me. When I woke up I didn’t feel anything – no pain. When I checked, there were half a dozen points where the surgeon had operated, and a catheter had been fitted.
“I had a piece of dry toast and my wife collected me at 5 pm to take me home.
“Initially Mr Hellawell told me I would need to be off work for two months,” he said. “I told him I had never had a day off work in my life, so he laughed and said: well, your company owes you, then. In the end I recuperated at home for just under five weeks.”
Surgeon Giles Hellawell is delighted with his patient’s progress. “We undertake a minimally invasive procedure with keyhole surgery and with the right patient we can see a full recovery on the same day,” he said.
Since the programme started he has done over 40 laparascopic prostatectomies, but Mr O’Brien was the first day case patient, with the rest spending just one night in hospital.
“Post-operative pain is minimised by the use of local anaesthetic and most patients only require simple oral paint relief such as paracetamol. The extra-peritoneal approach avoids entering the abdomen and permits operating with the patient flat, so that patients recover quickly from the laparascopic approach,” Mr Hellawell says.
“The purchase of high definition camera systems and specialised operating equipment has allowed us to provide complex treatments for our local population without the need for them to travel elsewhere. I would like to thank the Trust's League of Friends who very generously donated £40,000 to fund this equipment.”
Our picture shows patient Mike O’Brien (left) recovering after his operation with consultant surgeon Giles Hellawell.
Notes to editors
1. The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust manages Northwick Park and St Mark’s Hospitals in Harrow and Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal. We employ 4,200 staff.
2. For more information please contact Jonathan Street on 07769 722771.