Surgery at Brockville General Hospital mmn (BGH) covered new ground November 24th with the first laparoscopic colon resection performed in the hospital’s history. Laparoscopic surgery is done with small incisions and special, minimally-invasive equipment. This type of surgery has been done at BGH for gall bladder removal, but laparoscopic colon surgery for cancer is something new.
“The initial debate with choosing laparoscopic surgery over traditional methods always is whether this is going to be equivalent to traditional methods. Will the outcomes change, perhaps be not as good,” explains Dr. Karim Somani, BGH General Surgeon who performed the new surgery,
“It (the debate) has been put to rest in the area of laparoscopic colon surgery for cancer,” he adds. “Multiple large centre trials both in Europe and North America have shown equivalent recurrence and survival rates after laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer.”
The minimally-invasive technique offers secondary benefits to patients—less post-operative pain, faster return of bowel function, and consequently shorter hospital stays. Fiscal benefits are gained with these decreases in healing time as hospital resources can be distributed elsewhere more quickly.
Having the necessary equipment, of course, is always part of offering new services at BGH. “We trial different equipment for about three to six months as part of our due diligence, then make a decision,” explains Dr. Somani. “This has been done for this procedure and we hope to make a purchase soon. We have some of the tools in place as BGH already performs laparoscopic gall bladder surgery. However, we still need colon-specific equipment such as laparoscopic bowel graspers. They are much finer instruments needed for this type of surgery. The major need is an energy source—a tool that allows us to cut tissue in a safe and efficient way, and cauterize blood vessels at the same time.”
Somani worked with surgeons practicing minimally-invasive surgery during his training at the University of Alberta. “It’s always great to have that exposure as part of your training. Other surgeons at BGH are very interested in minimally invasive surgery. “In addition, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has expressed interest in performing advanced laparoscopic procedures. We hope to offer this type of surgery more regularly in several areas.”