Sharing expertise

21 June 2012

Dr Robert J McKenna Jr, MD
Dr Robert J McKenna Jr, MD

Thoracic consultants and surgical trainees from around the UK and Europe have gathered in Cardiff to study surgery techniques to be used in lung cancer treatments for UK patients.

The Welsh Institute for Minimal Access Therapy (WIMAT) and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, welcomed thoracic surgery expert, Dr Robert J. McKenna Jr, MD., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, for the first workshop of its kind in the UK.

The two day event focussed on minimally invasive thoracic surgery techniques proven to deliver better patient outcomes and greatly reduce recovery time.

Dr McKenna covered the development of Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) Lobectomy, an innovative lobe resection technique which is being rapidly adopted by thoracic centres across the UK for lung cancer treatments.

The course outcomes reflect the Welsh Government's proposed five year scheme "Together for Health – Cancer Delivery Plan". The drive, launched earlier in June by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Leslie Griffiths focuses on improvements to identify and treating cancer, with an aim of improving patient care and increasing survival rates.

Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival outcomes of any cancer, due to the late diagnosis of patients. By training UK surgeons to adopt Dr McKenna's innovative lobe resection technique, UK lung cancer patients will benefit from a minimally invasive procedure, decreased pain and fewer adverse effects post op, as well as a reduced hospital stay, whilst maintaining a low economic cost to the NHS.

During the course, trainees visited facilities at the Cardiff School of Biosciences and at the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. This included a live VATS Lobectomy demonstration, performed by Dr McKenna and viewed through a unique two-way link from the University Hospital of Wales' cutting-edge Integrated Theatre to WIMAT's lecture theatre on the Heath campus.

Ms Margaret Kornaszewska, a Thoracic Surgeon at University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, and convenor of the VATS Masterclass, visited Dr McKenna's department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles in 2011 to study his distinguished technique.

Since her return, the Thoracic Department at University Hospital of Wales has adopted Dr McKenna's systematic technique of VATS Lobectomy, in treating lung cancer patients. This has resulted in a sharp rise in the number of VATS Lobectomies performed at the University Hospital of Wales, from 1% in 2010, to 41% in 2011.

Ms Margaret Kornaszewska said, "We are very proud to have welcomed such a prestigious thoracic surgeon to Wales. The Masterclass was a collaboration between Cardiff University and the University Hospital of Wales and provided a unique opportunity to see Dr McKenna's world renown technique at first hand and have the chance to discuss the procedure at length.

"Thoracic training and provision in Wales is among the best in the country and a meeting of minds in this way ensures that we remain up to date and innovative."