Guy’s and St Thomas’ surgeons save grandmother’s vision with help from a robot in ‘world first’ operation

Katherine Johnston (03 June, 2021)

'I haven’t lost my eye and they got the cancer out. It’s such a relief, I’m over the moon'

45030Irene Milton and Jean-Pierre Jeannon

Guy’s and St Thomas’ surgeons have removed an eye tumour using a robot in a groundbreaking ‘world first’ procedure which saved an 85-year-old grandmother’s vision.

Irene Milton had a recurrent  basal cell carcinoma on the inner corner of her right eye and was previously told she would have to have her eye removed in order to treat the cancer.

The operation, the first time it has been attempted in the world, was undertaken by surgeons from Moorfields Eye Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Robotic surgery enables surgeons to perform precise procedures in a minimally invasive way, so patients can recover quicker.

Jean-Pierre Jeannon, consultant head and neck surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ operated on Irene with Asit Arora, robotic head and neck surgical lead at the trust and adjunct senior lecturer at King’s College London’s School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences.

The procedure means Irene, from Bradford, will not need any radiotherapy.

She said: “I am so pleased at the outcome – I haven’t lost my eye and they got the cancer out. It’s such a relief, I’m over the moon.

“It’s nice to know that you’re never too old to have anything done, especially pioneering surgery.”

Jean-Pierre Jeannon said: “We’re delighted for Irene that her surgery went so well. Her tumour is gone and she has kept her sight.

“It’s the first time in the world that the robot has been used in this way for orbital surgery, and we hope we can treat more patients in the same way. The success of this procedure is testament to the collaboration between our team and our colleagues at Moorfields.

Claire Daniel, consultant oculoplastic surgeon and lid oncology lead at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: “Irene has done really well after her surgery and it’s very exciting to be able to provide such a great service for our patients affected by cancer. This is truly a world-leading advance in orbital surgery, which we will build on in the future.

“We have developed a highly specialised periocular cancer unit thanks to our excellent collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’, enabling us to share our expertise in treating these very difficult cases.”

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