A top international surgeon who has pioneered a new technique for sutureless hernia-repair – one of the commonest types of operation – staged a masterclass at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) on Friday 22 February.
Prof Philippe Chastan flew in from Bordeaux to demonstrate an operation, then to oversee and advise NDDH surgeons as they operated on patients in the theatre. A live videolink was used to beam the pictures to other doctors and health staff.
The technique has already been used successfully in North Devon for a few patients, who are among the first few hundred around the world to benefit.
It involves the use of a new type of mesh to repair inguinal hernia, which affects up to one in 20 people over the course of their lifetime. With nearly 400 patients needing this type of surgery in North Devon each year, the potential for improving care is huge.
The new mesh is designed to combat the chronic pain that may affect one in ten patients after inguinal hernia surgery, by removing the need for stitches.
The technique also reduces the time taken for an operation, from around 40 minutes to 30, helps patients recover more quickly and cuts the risk of infection.
In North Devon, its greater use should help further reduce waiting times, which are already down to five or six weeks in most cases.
Prof Chastan agreed to come after meeting one of North Devon’s surgeon,
Mr Pardeep Arora, at an international congress in Singapore last autumn.
Mr Arora said: “I am spellbound. We really had a masterclass. On top of that I am proud to be a member of the most talented young team of surgeons I have ever worked with.
“Everybody, I think, enjoyed it to the brim. Patients went home satisfied
and happy. May these things happen in future more often – Barnstaple deserves to be on the cutting edge.
“This is a great coup for North Devon, getting the inventor of a very promising new technique to come here in person and help us make the most of it.
“We’re already getting good results, but Prof Chastan’s visit should help us make further improvements that should benefit a lot of people.
“Having already started to use the new technique, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss when I met Prof Chastan in Singapore, and he was only too happy to come to Barnstaple.
While in the UK, Prof Chastan was also due to demonstrate his technique in Birmingham and to talk with surgeons at Taunton.