Specialised surgery a first for the Hastings

In a first for Port Macquarie and the Hastings, a local surgical team headed by Dr George Petrou have demonstrated that the laparoscopic approach for liver resection is safe and feasible for a patient with benign or malignant liver tumor. This ground breaking successful operation took place at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

“This patient is already up and doing well two days after major abdominal surgery. It is the beauty of laparascopic surgey”, says Dr Petrou. Only surgeons with specialist focused training in liver anatomy and surgery are able to perform this surgery safely and successfully in Australia. “I am proud to be the first high volume liver cancer surgeon, to perform liver surgery outside of a major city in Australia”.

“Port Macquarie Base Hospital offers state of the art staging with high definition CT and MRI to carefully select patients for liver surgery. We have a dedicated multidisciplinary team including a specialist medical oncologist, interventional radiologist, intensive care specialists and specialist registered nurses who work together in managing these patients” says Dr Petrou, “Port Macquarie is now the definitive specialist liver cancer service in the North Coast Area Health Service. This means that patients on the NSW Mid North Coast and North Coast have access to state of the art life saving treatment and no longer have to travel vast distances, away from their families and loved ones, to access such treatment”.

The liver is a complex vascular organ which has a crucial role in coordinating nutrition into metabolic function. The liver also filters the blood and as a result it acts as a physical barrier to cancer cells in the blood stream. In Australia, the most common cancer to deposit in the liver is colorectal cancer. The 2nd most common cancer to afflict Australians is colorectal cancer, and most of these patients die because of their liver secondaries. If the cancer secondaries are able to be surgically removed before, they penetrate the liver barrier; up to 70% of selected patients can be cured. Other cancers which can be cured with liver surgery are hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatoma), cholangiocarcinoma (cancer of the bile ducts) and gallbladder cancer.

Minimally invasive surgery has transformed the approach of many surgical procedures, reducing associated pain, hospital length of stay, and achieving comparable results with open operations.

The operative time is comparable between laparoscopic hepatic resection and open hepatic resection. A substantial reduction in blood loss and shorter postoperative hospital stay are associated with the laparoscopic approach. Reduction in postoperative narcotic use and a faster return to normal activities can also be expected in patients undergoing laparoscopic liver resection. Other potential advantages of the laparoscopic approach include earlier resumption of therapies associated with healing cancer (e.g., chemotherapy) and decreased liver dysfunction in patients with cirrhosis.