A MID North Coast doctor is changing the way liver and other laparoscopic surgeries are performed in the region.
Dr George Petrou has performed the first laparoscopic – or non-invasive – liver cancer surgery outside a major metropolitan centre in NSW.
Dr Petrou, who moved to Mid North Coast from Sydney in 2008, is the only laparoscopic liver surgeon between Newcastle and the Queensland border.
Based in Port Macquarie, he also performs regular gall bladder and hernia surgeries in Kempsey.
He said cancer patients who received laparoscopic surgery had much faster rates of recovery than those who underwent more invasive procedures.
“Liver surgery for colon cancer is traditionally an open operation, or an operation with a large incision,” Dr Petrou said.
“What we’ve found is that the length of a patient’s hospital stay is usually a result of the large wound caused by surgery and complications, delaying discharge.
“These days chemotherapy for colon cancer is much more effective.
“The combination of chemotherapy and surgery is seeing cure rates in the vicinity of 70 per cent.
“The idea is that through laparoscopic surgery patients can get out of hospital as quickly as possible and back on chemo.”
Discharge rates for patients who have undergone laparoscopic surgery are as little as two or three days, while patients who have been through major surgery often spend as many as 10 days in hospital.
Laparoscopic surgery is also benefiting patients at Kempsey Hospital.
For the past two years Dr Petrou has been conducting laparoscopic gallstone and hernia surgery.
“Before that it hadn’t been done in Kempsey for close to 10 years,” Dr Petrou said.
“The revamp that’s about to happen here will continue and expand those services.
“I think we’ve been able to show over the last two years that a fair proportion of people with gallstones can be treated efficiently and effectively here.”
Dr Petrou said there were distinct advantages for patients needing surgery to do so as close to home as possible.
“You don’t have to travel, your support network is close by, it’s cheaper and you’re near family,” he said.