Colchester: Innovative surgery is first of a kind

AN ESSEX hospital is thought to be the first in the world to carry out a new type of life-saving keyhole operation.

Adam Howard carried out the seven-hour procedure at Colchester General Hospital with his fellow consultant vascular surgeon, Christopher Backhouse, and two consultants from Truro, Cornwall.

The successful operation was to seal a leaking aneurysm in an 83-year-old man from the Cornish city, who six days later was able to leave Colchester General Hospital, which is a leading centre for laparoscopic vascular surgery.

Four previous attempts had been made to seal the leak at other hospitals, including at a major teaching hospital in London.

The patient, who has asked not to be named, has written to Mr Howard to “express my extreme gratitude to you and all the staff concerned during my stay at the hospital.”


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He wrote: “I was, as you can imagine, extremely apprehensive about the operation before entering the hospital but the whole experience helped to greatly reassure me.

“You really have an exceptionally fine unit and I wish it all the very best in the future. No doubt, many other patients will benefit from it.”

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Mr Howard is writing an article about the operation for publication in a vascular journal and his ambition is for Colchester to become a specialist centre for referrals from all over the country. He believes there will be a significant demand for the procedure.

“About three years ago, the patient had surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in Truro but the stent slipped, which is not particularly unusual,” he said.

“This means that blood gets into the aneurysm and there is a significant chance of a rupture within 12 months.

“Four 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 said that because it was a keyhole operation, using the same equipment as in hernia repairs, only small cuts – up to 1cm in length – were required, which means the recovery process is quicker than with traditional open surgery, less pain and less risk of infection.

He added that it was the fifth operation at Colchester General Hospital to seal a leaking aneurysm laparoscopically, all of which had successful outcomes. However, he believed it was the first operation anywhere in the world to repair this particular type of leak, which is known as a type 1a endoleak.

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