News Releases

UWI partners with international firms for Caribbean’s first robotic surgeries

For Release Upon Receipt - October 15, 2021

St. Augustine



The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago.  Friday 15th October 2021 — A group of surgeons from The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St Augustine Campus have carried out what has been hailed as “the first series of robot-assisted surgeries in the Anglophone Caribbean”. The procedures, part of a collaborative initiative with local and international partners, is a significant step forward in surgical technology for the region.

On September 20, a six-member UWI surgical team performed three keyhole surgeries with the assistance of a surgical robot in an operating theatre at the Port of Spain General Hospital, under the Northwest Regional Health Authority (NWRHA). The procedures were facilitated by medical company AA Laquis; Imperial Medical Solutions (IMS) and Freehand, two UK-based medical technology firms; and with support from the UK Department of International Trade. The surgeries were the result of several months of planning and are part of an initiative that also includes surgeons at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica.

Speaking at a press conference on October 8, Professor Dilip Dan, Deputy Dean of Graduate Studies at UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences, and a member of the surgical team, said the technology was “a step in the right direction to where surgery is headed”.

The “Trinidad Six”, as the surgical team was called, piloted a CoBOT (short for Collaborative Robot) with support from experts from the region and beyond, while performing the surgeries, a medical first for the region. The Freehand Panorama CoBOT is owned by AA Laquis.

“This technology can be used in any keyhole or laparoscopic surgery where a camera is inserted into a patient through a small incision, providing the surgeon with a view inside the body,” a statement from AA Laquis explained.

Keyhole/laparoscopic surgery involves operations in the abdomen or pelvis using small incisions with the aid of a camera. This minimally invasive type of modern surgery has several, most notably less pain and faster recovery for the patient. Professor Dan and his team at UWI have been regional pioneers of this type of surgery.

The CoBOT can makes these procedures even more efficient.

“Usually, a human assistant will hold the camera and react to verbal instructions from the surgeon,” the statement from AA Laquis said. “As the name suggests, the Freehand CoBOT offers a ‘free hand’ since the camera is now brought under the direct control of the surgeon, providing a 360º, tremor-free image, and complete control of their surgical environment.”

The CoBOT has been used in more than 15,000 surgeries in Europe, the US, and Australia.

Speaking on behalf of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Prof Dan, who is also the President of the Caribbean Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, told those in attendance at the press conference that his “first duty” was “to thank the NWRHA, AA Laquis, the DCSS and of course Freehand and Imperial Medical Solutions for this collaborative work in starting robotic-assisted surgery in Trinidad and Tobago”.

He added however, that even though this was an important first step, there was still a long way to go:

“We have a solid platform of advanced laparoscopic surgery in Trinidad, and though we have made the first step towards robotic surgery, we have a long distance to travel and we must keep our eyes on the goal ahead.”

Phase two of the project is scheduled to take place in Jamaica, led by a UWI team at the Mona Campus headed by Professor Joseph Plummer and surgical lead Dr Roy McGregor. The project will expand into more complex cases and “fine tune” issues identified by the Trinidad team.



About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)