A new £1 million operating theatre at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is the first in the UK to include near infrared imaging technology.

The 'Colin George Laparoscopic Theatre’ was welcomed by members of the Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation who raised £500,000 for purchase of the theatre’s new equipment through the ‘Keyhole Cancer Appeal’.

The hospital invested in the new surgical platform by Olympus, called VISERA ELITE II. It is a compact, all-in-one system, that reduces the number of devices required in the theatre. It can also be used for 2D and 3D HD imaging. The theatre also offers different observation possibilities including near infrared (NIR) imaging and Narrow Band Imaging (NBI). Both NIR and NBI can help to improve patient outcome during diagnostics or surgery.

Mr Mike Dworkin, Consultant Surgeon at Southend University Hospital Trust, said: "So far we have used the theatre for cancer, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s, diverticular operations and radical prostate surgery.

"Many of these patients would have previously had to have ‘open’ surgery’ which would have meant longer hospital stays and recovery times, and greater post-operative pain and scarring.

"The great news for patients is we have now got faster set up times for surgery and quicker change over between cases and have the equipment to carry out on table colonoscopy, which will make cancer surgery more accurate.’

"We can now bring digital x-rays and body scans to the screens and record operations for education purposes, dramatically enhancing the teaching process for training our own staff or using the two-way video conferencing to beam operations and training to hospitals or conferences across the world. All of which will continue to grow and enhance the reputation of Southend Hospital and its staff, not just nationally but internationally."

Senior Product Manager for Systems Integration at Olympus, David Gillett, said: "By installing a new theatre with the latest technology, the hospital is able to offer the very best environment for their clinical team, providing significant benefits such as improved theatre efficiency and patient outcome."