Landmark surgery at Mercy Hospital

Stabroek News
November 27, 2002

Related Links: Articles on health
Letters Menu Archival Menu

The first ever laparoscopic cholecystectomy was successfully performed at the St Joseph Mercy Hospital recently. This was followed by the removal of an inflamed appendix laparoscopically.

Laparoscopic surgery is a method of performing surgical operations using a number of small incisions (usually 5 mm to 15 mm) with the aid of small instruments, a television, and a camera attached to an endoscope (telescope placed into the body). A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder using this technique.

According to a release from the hospital, on the afternoon of the day of the laparoscopic cholecystectomy the patient was walking with minimal assistance, and tolerating a liquid diet. On the first day after the surgery the patient was discharged and five days later she was seen by her physician and found to be recovering. The laparoscopic appendectomy was performed on a patient who had shown symptoms that were not indicative of appendicitis. After a diagnostic laparoscopy showed the presence of appendicitis, the appendix was laparoscopically removed.

Dr Surendra Persaud assisted by Dr Sheik Amir performed both surgeries.

According to the hospital since this was the first operation of its kind, the process took a little longer than usual and lasted about 2 1/2 hours. The hospital stated that it expected to shortly achieve its target of performing the vast majority of these operations in less than 1 1/2 hours. But even with the advent of this milestone in health care, the hospital was careful to state that this type of operation has its limitations. In 85 - 95 % of the patients requiring removal of the gallbladder, the surgery can be performed laparoscopically. In the remaining patients, the presence of adhesions, unusual anatomy, or the presence of gallstones in the common bile duct are some of the reasons that a laparoscopic cholecystectomy cannot always be performed and an open cholecystectomy will have to be done instead.

The cost of this operation is no greater than if the surgery was performed using the older open method. In fact, according to the hospital, the cost will be cheaper in the long run since it reduces in-hospital stay, pain medications are less, recovery is quicker and less time is spent away from the patientís employment. The laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed last month was the culmination of two years of planning by the Board of Directors, the CEO and the new Resident Surgeon at the hospital. The initial setup costs were approximately US$35,000 and funding was secured from a variety of sources including foundations.

A number of other surgical procedures are now being done using the laparoscopic technique.

Mercy Hospital stated that it intended to use the new technique initially for the removal of gallbladders, diagnostic laparoscopy (rapid evaluation of intra-abdominal contents) in patients with abdominal complaints that are difficult to diagnose, some appendectomies and hernia operations.

Site Meter