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A boy aged six has become the first child in the UK to undergo a keyhole operation on his kidney using a new medical device.
Alexander Pasek, from Blackheath, was treated at the Evelina London Children's Hospital after developing a condition called hydronephrosis, where one or both kidneys become swollen after a build-up of urine.
Surgeon Massimo Garriboli used the FlexDex tool to insert internal sutures, or stitches, after unblocking Alexander's kidney.
The wand-like device attaches to the surgeon's waist and precisely translates his hand, wrist, and arm movements into corresponding movements of the "needle and thread" within the patient's body.
It effectively replicates the ability of a surgical robot to operate within the body — but at a fraction of the cost.
Mr Garriboli, a consultant paediatric urologist, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be the first hospital in the UK to use the FlexDex device during kidney keyhole surgery on a child.
"The FlexDex device is at the cutting edge of surgical innovations as it enables surgeons to have much better control and flexibility when performing keyhole surgery. This means that the procedure is less invasive and more efficient than other traditional methods, which reduces tissue damage and scarring and aids the patient's recovery."
Alexander spent three days in hospital after the operation at the end of last year. He had been diagnosed by chance in July 2018 when he was hospitalised in Poland with another condition.
His mother, Estera, said: "We were very surprised when we found out Alexander had hydronephrosis as he had no symptoms. Thankfully the condition was diagnosed in good time and is now being treated.
"We were very excited when we were told that Alexander was the first child in the UK to be operated on with this new device."
She added: "Alexander's recovery has been fantastic. He had his energy back by the time he was discharged and was fully back to playing and running around a week after the surgery.
"The doctors have been very impressed by how well he has recovered. Tests show that his kidney is currently functioning normally, which is really great news."
Hydronephrosis does not cause long-term problems if diagnosed and treated promptly. But in severe cases that are left untreated, the kidneys may become scarred, which could lead to kidney failure, requiring dialysis and a transplant.