Total laparascopic hysterectomies will be the way of the future at Mackay Base Hospital thanks to a new program upskilling theatre staff.
The Base is one of four Queensland hospitals participating in the IMAGINE trial run by the University of Queensland’s Centre for Gynaecological Cancer Research.
Clinical Director Dr Kathleen Braniff said while the procedure itself was not new, it would be routinely offered once training was complete by the end of the year.
The first five patients who underwent the procedure have gone home and are recovering well with no complications.
“It’s not a ground-breaking procedure, but it takes a structured training and mentoring program to change our practices so that a laparoscopic hysterectomy is the main hysterectomy procedure offered in Mackay,” Dr Braniff said.
The IMAGINE trial is evaluating system-level transformative practice change in gynaecologic surgery in Queensland.
Dr Braniff said while Dr Rita Rana had performed the procedure at the Base, it was not possible to offer it more widely to patients without more staff training.
“In the future it will be offered to anyone who requires a hysterectomy in the absence of contraindications such as very large uteruses, lots of adhesions and cancer of cervix,” she said.
Dr Braniff said benefits of total laparascopic hysterectomies include shorter hospital stays, a better patient experience and reduced surgical costs.
“It also enables the ovaries and tubes to be removed at the same time which is difficult with vaginal hysterectomy.
“This is important because it’s thought removing tubes at times of hysterectomy can reduce cancer of the ovaries by about 50%,” she said.
Dr Braniff and Dr Nadja Hillwig already perform laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomies and abdominal hysterectomies.
“The training program is designed not to just teach us how to do the procedure but to achieve absolute excellence while doing so.
“There is a strong focus on team work, the theatre set up and optimising everything in theatre to optimise patient outcomes. Everything counts, from how the bed is set up to how the patient is positioned, everything has to work properly.”
Further workshops will be held in Mackay this year to continue upskilling staff with a view to making laparascopic hysterectomies business as usual for suitable patients.
Dr Braniff thanked everyone who made the two-day training possible, saying it involved roster and clinic changes to make staff available.
Staff from surgery, anaesthetics and nursing have also attended training days in Brisbane.
Leading Queensland surgeons Dr Kelvin Larwood and Prof Andreas Obermair attended Mackay Base to supervise the first five procedures.