Caption: Mr Greg Wynn, Consultant Surgeon.
6 July 2012
A Colchester surgeon has successfully performed what he believes is the first cancer operation of its kind in the UK.
Mr Greg Wynn, Consultant Surgeon, was able to remove a cancerous section of bowel from a 67-year-old woman from the Chelmsford area by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery without the need to make a larger cut in the abdominal wall to extract the specimen.
This new technique reduces post-operative pain, meaning the patient does not have to spend so long in hospital and can resume normal activities even sooner than after standard keyhole surgery.
During the three-hour procedure at Colchester General Hospital, where Mr Wynn is based, the diseased segment of colon was removed through the rectum and anal canal instead of the abdominal wall.
He said that operating through natural orifices - or Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) to give it its proper name - was likely to be the next step in the evolution of minimally-invasive keyhole surgery.
"This is a really exciting new advance," he said. "We have been working towards this for a couple of years so it is very satisfying that we have shown it can be done.
"The technique will, of course, have to be performed on more patients before any firm conclusions can be made about whether this operation has lasting benefits.
"To date, there are no published reports from the United Kingdom describing this technique so it keeps Colchester firmly at the forefront of global efforts to further minimise the trauma of abdominal surgery."
After her operation, the patient was discharged home after only three days compared with an average of six days for patients undergoing the standard procedure.
Mr Wynn said he hoped to carry out another 10-20 of these new operations in Colchester before publishing the results in a professional journal.
Last year he visited Rio de Janeiro to learn more about operating through the body's natural orifices.
He worked with surgeons who are pioneering innovative operations through the rectum, stomach and vagina which reduce pain.
As well as great skill and patience, the technique requires new, dedicated surgical instruments but Mr Wynn believes it is only a matter of time before this type of surgery becomes more widespread.
Colchester has an international reputation for excellence in laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
In March last year, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley opened The ICENI Centre at Colchester General Hospital, which is a training and research and development centre for laparoscopic surgery.