Less invasive surgery carried out at hospital to treat rectal cancer

Consultant colorectal surgeons Chris Speakman and Irshad Shaikh. Photo: NNUH

Consultant colorectal surgeons Chris Speakman and Irshad Shaikh. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

A new minimal-invasive surgical approach to treat rectal cancer and other bowel conditions has been carried out at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) by two surgeons operating on a patient at the same time.

NNUH Colorectal cancer team. Photo: NNUH

NNUH Colorectal cancer team. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

The procedure, TransAnal Total Mesorectal Excision (TaTME), was led by consultant colorectal surgeons Irshad Shaikh and Chris Speakman.

Mr Shaikh said: 'Rectal surgeries are challenging operations due to various reasons, including narrow pelvis especially in men, as well as the presence of important structures and nerves for normal bodily functions, such as bladder, bowel and sexual functions. This innovative procedure has also been carried out on patients with other colon conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

'We want to achieve complete cancer removal (oncological clearance) and at the same time avoid complications and restore the gut continuity.

'With lower rectal cancers, although we can perform the surgery via laparoscopy, sometimes we cannot complete the surgery this way due to poor access. On these occasions, we have a number of approaches available and one of them is TransAnal Total Mesorectal Excision where two surgeons operate together.'

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One of the country's leading colorectal surgeons, Janindra Warusavitarne from St Mark's Hospital (a specialist bowel hospital in Harrow, London) visited NNUH to help the trust set up the service.

Mr Shaikh said performing the surgery with two teams enabled them to carry out the operation with minimal invasion, reduce the time a patient spends under anaesthetic and offered all the benefits of laparoscopic minimal invasive surgery (keyhole).

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One of the first patients to undergo the new-style surgery in July was Carol Cotton, 72, from Long Stratton.

Mrs Cotton said: 'The help I received in hospital was fantastic. My daughter stayed with me for a few weeks after I came home. Since then I've started to feel normal again and am back cutting the grass and walking the dog.'

The team at NNUH has carried out more than 1,100 colorectal operations over the past five years – among the highest of any Trust in the country.

Mr Shaikh added: 'This was real team effort. We would like to thank our colorectal surgical colleagues, theatre scrub team, anaesthetic team, radiologists, specialist nurses, secretarial staff, ward nursing staff, physiotherapy and stoma nursing team who all play a part in the patient's care.'

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