Surgeons Mr John Butler, Mr Des Barton and Ms Marielle Nobbenhuis using the PlasmaJet on a patient with ovarian cancer

Introduced at the hospital by Mr Des Barton, Consultant Gynaecological Surgeon, the PlasmaJet device uses the plasma energy from ionised argon gas to cut through and dissect tissue, stop bleeding and destroy cancer cells safely. Unlike most other energy devices used in surgery, it can destroy cells on the surface of organs and tissue with minimal collateral effect.

In particular, the PlasmaJet has applications in advanced ovarian cancer, where the disease is typically in multiple nodules or ‘sheets’ on the surface of organs and tissue in the abdomen and pelvis. After a trial period at The Royal Marsden to assess its applicability, safety and efficacy in ovarian cancer, it is now an essential part of the hospital’s surgical apparatus.

Ms Marielle Nobbenhuis, Honorary Consultant Gynaecological Surgeon, said: “During PlasmaJet surgery, cancer cells are removed from structures such as the bowel and diaphragm, without causing damage to the surrounding tissue. This means there is often no need to resect or remove the tissue in these areas.

“Previously, many women undergoing extensive surgery for ovarian cancer had to have parts of their bowel removed in order to eradicate the disease. Extensive removal of bowel tissue can mean that a stoma is required, which has a serious impact on a patient’s quality of life after their surgery and the amount of time they need to spend in hospital afterwards."

“There is a clear correlation between the amount of residual visible disease following ovarian cancer surgery and the patient’s survival. With the PlasmaJet, not only can we completely remove or destroy all visible disease, there is less need for bowel resection. This has the most impact on improving the survival time and offers the potential for actually curing these patients.”

The Royal Marsden’s experience with the PlasmaJet device was presented at an international meeting last year.

Ms Nobbenhuis said: “No other surgical device can safely remove and destroy the same amount of cancer cells.  At The Royal Marsden, a leading centre for the management of ovarian cancer, we are starting to deliver improved outcomes for patients.”