Anaesthesia services

The Anaesthetic Department provides services at various locations across The Royal Marsden's hospitals in Chelsea and Sutton.

Operating theatres

At our London hospital there are eight operating theatres. Our theatre suites have high-definition plasma screens to allow a full view of the proceeding surgery. The theatres also have modern anaesthetic monitoring equipment, including ultrasound technology for safe vascular access and placement of regional local anaesthetic blocks.

Together with the critical care team we have installed the latest technologies in the theatre suite and Critical Care Unit, including a state-of-the-art clinical information system that will monitor our patients more safely and efficiently.

We provide specialist anaesthesia for:

  • upper gastrointestinal surgery
  • major liver resections
  • head and neck cancer
  • major intra-abdominal and retroperitoneal sarcomas
  • plastic surgery reconstructions, including free tissue transfer
  • gynae-oncological surgery
  • complex urological cancer surgery.

At our Sutton hospital we have a further two theatre suites which are in regular use, providing specialist anaesthesia for

  • breast surgery with complex oncoplastic free tissue reconstructions
  • head and neck cancer
  • trunk and limb sarcoma work
  • other oncoplastic-related surgery.

Minor Procedures Suite

Our consultant anaesthetists perform a regular vascular access list, placing tunnelled central venous lines, under local anaesthesia, in the Minor Procedures Suite.

Pre-assessment units

Our pre-assessment units provides an invaluable service that has revolutionised the preparation of all our patients undergoing all types of cancer surgery. Here, consultant anaesthetists, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists provide a comprehensive package of preoperative care. This personal and highly effective process allows for the smooth transition of patients along their preoperative journey.

Having this unit also means that some patients can be safely admitted on the same day as their surgery, fully prepared and ready to go. This has a huge impact on the overall efficiency of the hospital and benefits all Royal Marsden patients.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) facility

Consultant anaesthetists have been instrumental in setting up and running our new cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) facility. This facility helps in the assessment of a patient's fitness for major surgery.

We are currently working in partnership with our haemato-oncology colleagues, developing research in the use of CPET in predicting outcomes in patients undergoing bone marrow transplants.

We are looking forward to promoting this fantastic service further in the future with more consultant input and a CPET fellow by the start of 2011, so that the wealth of research opportunities incorporating CPET can be pursued with vigour.

Critical Care Unit

This 19-bed unit is equipped to the highest standards to care for patients following complex surgery or with cancer-related illness. In conjunction with the newly refurbished theatre suite, it will incorporate the very latest equipment and technology to enable our dedicated team to care for even more patients, while increasing our already world-class survival rates.

Paediatric anaesthesia

Paediatric surgery is based at The Royal Marsden’s hospital in Sutton. There are regular paediatric lists within the main theatre complex. These entail general anaesthesia for infants and children undergoing minor procedures, such as the placement of long-term vascular access for cancer therapy, performed by paediatric surgeons from St George’s Hospital.

There is also a daily consultant-led general anaesthesia and sedation service for young cancer patients undergoing intrathecal chemotherapy within a dedicated paediatric theatre, and MRI scans, CT scans and radiation therapy outside the operating room.