World first for keyhole surgery expert
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World first for keyhole surgery expert

A Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University has successfully carried out a new type of life-saving laparoscopic (keyhole) vascular surgery.

The successful operation, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, was to seal a leaking aneurysm in an 83-year-old man from Truro in Cornwall, and took place in a new £1.5m hybrid operating theatre at Colchester General Hospital.

Adam Howard, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery at Anglia Ruskin, carried out the seven-hour procedure with his fellow Colchester General Hospital consultant vascular surgeon Mr Christopher Backhouse and two consultants from Truro.

Mr Howard said:

About three years ago, the patient had surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in Truro but the stent slipped, which is not particularly unusual. This means that blood gets into the aneurysm and there is a significant chance of a rupture within 12 months.

“Three attempts were made at other hospitals to seal the aneurysm, including restenting and an operation involving a special glue costing £6,000, but none of them worked.

Mr Howard believes it was the first operation anywhere in the world to repair this particular type of leak, which is known as a type 1a endoleak. Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms cause about 6,000 deaths a year in England and Wales.

Mr Howard said that because it was a laparoscopic (keyhole) operation, only small cuts – up to 1cm in length – were required, which means the recovery process is quicker than with traditional open surgery, is less painful and has less risk of infection.

He devised the operation at The ICENI Centre at Colchester General Hospital, which is a state-of-the-art training and research and development centre for laparoscopic surgery and a joint venture between Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and Anglia Ruskin University.

Mr Howard lectures on the Masters course in Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, which is taught at the Postgraduate Medical Institute on Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus.