St George Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


Three-In-One Surgery A Game Changer

Jun 10, 2014

A 73-year-old Sylvania man underwent a three-in-one robotic surgery last month, paving the path for "combination" surgeries in the future.

In a surgical hat trick, Dr Tru Ngo and Dr Simon Chew removed two primary cancers at the same time - one in the prostate and one in the rectum - before repairing a large hernia, all in a single operation.

Patient Kevin Potter, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January, and whose subsequent scans revealed a second mass in the bowel, described the surgery as "astronomically fantastic" and one he believes almost certainly saved his life.

Mr Potter says the gratitude he has for his doctors "is hard to put into words".

"Just a few decades ago most medical advice was to put band-aids on things or if it was really serious we were sent home to die," says Mr Potter, from Sylvania.

"And while the trajectory of medical care over the past few decades has always been on a steep up curve, what these doctors have done for me is truly remarkable. I was in hospital on a Saturday night and had three procedures in one.

"I was out within the week, had tiny scars, hardly any pain throughout and now have a great prognosis".

For Urological Surgeon Dr Tru Ngo and Colorectal Surgeon Dr Simon Chew, it was not just about capable hands using high-tech instruments, but doctors working together to combine entirely new possibilities across the specialty spectrum.

"In the past, separate operations would mean multiple scars and abdominal incisions of 20cm or more," says Dr Ngo who operates at both St George Private Hospital and also Strathfield Private Hospital where the robotic procedure was performed.

"With the new approach, we are able to navigate through the same surgical holes for each of the different procedures. There are just a few small cuts at 1-1.5cm each and a separate 4cm incision to retrieve both tumours."

Dr Chew says that this kind of "one-stop-surgery" is a unique phenomenon in robotic surgery and that it may become more common place in the future as more doctors are trained in robotic surgery and more hospitals implement robotic surgical systems.

"Theoretically it could mean obesity surgery combined with gallbladder surgery, or perhaps a rectal prolapse operation with an uterine prolapse operation or hysterectomy."

Three-In-One Surgery

Caption: never say Ngo! St George Private's Dr Tru Ngo with patient Kevin Potter and Dr Simon Chew.