Development of Minimally Invasive Surgery

St Mark's Hospital has been pioneering new surgical treatments for 180 years. The innovations developed aim to improve recovery for patients and reduce complications.

Since 1835, St Mark’s Hospital has pioneered new surgical techniques and championed the development of minimally invasive surgery. The development of minimally invasive surgery aims to improve accuracy during operations to ensure that:

  • Less healthy tissue is removed
  • Recovery time is improved
  • There is reduced risk of complications post-surgery

Pioneered by St Mark’s Sir Alan Parks in the 1970s, the ileo-anal pouch operation is a surgical treatment for aggressive ulcerative colitis. The formation of an ileo-anal pouch provides an option for patients with this condition to live without a stoma. In effect, the ileo-anal pouch has proved to be completely life changing. The operation has been performed in more than 25,000 patients worldwide!

Surgical Robotics Research Programme

After a successful capital campaign by the Foundation, St Mark’s took delivery of a da Vinci Xi surgical robot in 2018. The focus of the Programme, unlike in other UK hospitals, is colorectal surgery.

Programme highlights include:

  • 400 robotic operations performed between 2022 and almost 50 in the first quarter of 2023
  • The robotic colorectal procedures being performed at St Mark’s are different to other institutions
  • To achieve the aspiration to become a national and international training hub in robotic colorectal surgery, to date, more than 60 surgeons have been hosted at St Mark’s from UK and overseas hospitals for one-day case observations
  • Intuitive Surgical Inc., maker of the da Vinci Xi surgical system, has funded 3 robotic fellowships at St Mark’s

Thank you to the donors who helped seed fund the Programme. Ongoing financial responsibility has transferred to our hospital Trust which is looking to purchase two additional robots.


Developed by Professor Robin Kennedy, FLEX can safely and efficiently perform full-thickness bowel wall removal of a polyp. It aims to avoid shortening of the bowel, pain, inter-abdominal scarring, the need for re-admission and the avoidance of unbearable toilet frequency.

This technique was first introduced into clinical practice in 2014 and it is to be explored further over the next ten years, offered to patients with early stages of cancer. This should help these patients avoid undergoing major surgery.


Developed by Professor Brian Saunders and Mr Janindra Warusavitarne, TASER involves the removal of large polyps in the rectum without major surgery. This technique has gained both national and international interest.