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Southend surgeons perform first keyhole radical cystectomy

26 March 2013

Health Care

Just weeks after becoming the first patient to have his bladder removed by keyhole surgery, Roger Newell was out mowing his lawn.

Roger, 63, from Rayleigh, underwent surgery earlier this year after a scan detected a malignant growth in his bladder. He had first noticed blood in his urine last summer but tests came back negative. However, when the bleeding became heavier he was sent to Southend University Hospital for an endoscopy which discovered the cancer.

He said: "There was no option but to have the bladder removed."

He first underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy to improve the chances of a successful outcome and then became the first patient at Southend to have a laparoscopic radical cystectomy.

Southend University Hospital is the only hospital in Essex to perform laparoscopic radical cystectomies; the other nearest hospitals are in Cambridge, Norwich and London.

The surgery was performed by consultant urological surgeons Mr Mohantha Dooldeniya and Miss Helen Hegarty who have both been carrying out cystectomies by open surgery for several years.

The new procedure involves removing both the bladder and the prostate gland in men and bladder and womb in women and then either creating a conduit for urine to exit the body via a stoma, or hole, in the patient's skin into a small bag; alternatively, a new bladder can be made from part of the ileum or small bowel which is then attached to the patient's urethra.

Mr Dooldeniya said: "If the patient has superficial bladder cancer, we perform a transurethral resection of the bladder which involves using a cystoscope, or slender tube, to scrape away the cancer cells away. But patients with invasive bladder cancer which involves the muscle need radical treatment.

"We perform about 40-50 bladder cystectomies a year and the laparoscopic option is a new service which the department of urology is now offering."

The duo has now carried out the same procedure on a second patient. However, Miss Hegarty stressed that not everyone is suitable for the keyhole procedure.

Patients undergoing open surgery are unable to get back to normal activities for around three months. But Roger was cutting the grass just seven weeks after undergoing the operation. Now he can't wait for the weather to improve to get back on the golf course.

He said: "The diagnosis was a shock to the system, and I hated the idea of a bag. But the tumour was very aggressive so there was no alternative and I am managing well.

"I cannot fault Southend University Hospital. My treatment was superb."

Miss Hegarty said: "It was a major operation taking several hours. But the main benefit is that patients can leave hospital sooner after surgery and get back to normal more quickly."


With pic: Miss Helen Hegarty and Mr Mohantha Dooldeniya in theatre