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Robotic Assisted Surgery Improving Outcomes for Women at UHL Conference Hears

ROBOTIC assisted surgery is improving patient outcomes for complex gynaecological patients at University Hospital Limerick. That is according to research conducted by Dr Prerna Kamath who took home a silver medal at the annual NCHD (non-consultant hospital doctor) Conference held in University Hospital Limerick.

Patients are now benefiting from reduced length of stay, quicker recovery times and better outcomes compared to open and laparoscopic surgery.

Dr Kamath’s study examined 50 cases completed in UHL between January 2019 and September 2021. The rate of complications within 30 days was low (4% of cases) and there were no cases of post-operative infection. The average operation time was 2 hours and 34 minutes while the average length of stay was one day, all patients having been admitted on the day of surgery.

"Robotic assisted surgery in UHL certainly seems to be the future of surgery for some of our more complex patients. For my research, I looked at the intraoperative and postoperative outcomes post robotic assisted benign gynaecological surgery, and it had very favourable outcomes for patients with a high body mass index and large fibroids. The results are in line with international standards and show better postoperative outcomes compared to open surgery," said Dr Kamath

Robotic procedures can also help preserve fertility. In the case of a myomectomy, for example (involving the removal of uterine fibroids relatively common in Caucasian women), an open procedure comes not only with the usual risks and increased length of stay but also an increased risk of hysterectomy.

The annual conference aims to help NCHDs enhance their research experience, while providing them with an opportunity to present research, audit and quality improvement projects from this training year. More than 150 posters were submitted in the cross-faculty conference at the Clinical Education and Research Centre (CERC) incorporating Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics, Anaesthetics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Radiology, Orthopaedics and Emergency Medicine, with prizes for best poster presentation in each department.

The conference was opened by UL Hospitals Group CEO, Prof Colette Cowan who acknowledged the hard work and dedication of all NCHDs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “NCHDs are the lifeblood of our hospitals and make such a tremendous contribution to the care of our patients across the region. Throughout their clinical careers at UL Hospitals Group they have all shown great leadership, courage and resilience when faced with very challenging circumstances,” said Prof Cowan.

Taking home the top prize at the conference was Dr Niall Dalton for his research on the barriers to physical activity and quality of life indicators in children with type 1 diabetes.

According to his research, almost nine in 10 children attending the paediatric diabetes clinic in UHL were achieving 60 minutes of physical activity per day despite the barriers presented by the condition. However, some of the participants did acknowledge that the risk of hypoglycaemia was a major barrier to engaging in physical activity. This finding reflects the metabolic challenges associated with activity engagement for children and young people with Type 1 diabetes.

“It was a great honour to take home the top prize at the conference for my research on the effects of Type 1 diabetes on quality of life for paediatric patients. Type 1 diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic health conditions in youth with a rising incidence. Management regimes are often complex and demanding, leading to significant stress for children and their families and potentially decreasing the quality of life for all involved. Type, duration and intensity of physical activity will influence metabolic response in Type 1 diabetes, and careful planning is required to prevent severe episodes of hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia. One of the goals of paediatricians is to minimise the impact that disease and chronic conditions have on our patients and to afford them with the same experiences and opportunities as their peers. We therefore sought to investigate potential barriers to physical activity, as physical activity has been shown to improve diabetes management and overall improve the quality of life of children with the condition," Dr Dalton said.

The inaugural NCHD conference at UL Hospitals took place last year during the cyber-attack on HSE IT systems and COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges presented by these events, two of the submissions received recognition at the NCHD National Project Competition last June. Dr Therese Martin took home the top prize for her project on UL Hospitals Group NCHD App and Dr Berbie Byrne was also acknowledged for her work on the inaugural NCHD conference at UL Hospitals Group.

The NCHD conference is spearheaded by Training Lead at UL Hospitals Group, Dr John McManus who is committed to enhancing education and research at UL Hospitals Group. “This has been an extraordinary year of challenge for all healthcare workers, and the NCHDs have been at the forefront of these challenges on a daily basis. To have the resourcefulness and foresight to bring these projects, is a huge testament to these individual award winners and all those who supported them. The breadth and depth of the submissions for this year’s conference is a testament to the tenacity of our NCHDs,” Dr McManus said.