Posted by: calloftheandes | February 20, 2009

The Inside Story of Laparoscopic Surgery in Ecuador


The pincers grab and pull, then grab and pull again. But it’s not a scene playing out in a B-rated horror flick.

The steady beep . . . beep . . . beep of a heart monitor reveals that this is, instead, a surgical theater. More accurately described as a needle-holder, the pincers use a small curved surgical needle and thread to sew a stitch, then another, and another.

Meanwhile, physicians and medical students watch the surgical procedure on a monitor in a Hospital Vozandes-Quito (HVQ) conference room as the surgical team in the operating room two floors below provides commentary and updates on the surgery via cell phone contact.jornadas23

Advanced laparoscopic surgery workshops were among the many breakout sessions held during the 22nd annual Jornadas Médicas (medical education conferences) offered each January by HCJB Global Hands in Ecuador. Attendees at these sessions traveled via a laparoscopic camera to a patient’s abdomen to witness the surgical procedures.

Pioneering work in laparoscopic surgery began 100 years ago, but the procedure was launched into new areas with the introduction of computer chip television cameras in the 1990s. The approach aims to minimize patients’ post-operative pain and hasten recovery times while maintaining an adequate visual field for the surgeons.

With improved patient outcomes in the last 20 years, laparoscopic surgery has been adopted by various surgical subspecialties such as gastrointestinal and gynecological surgeries as well as urology. The surgeries at HVQ were bariatric procedures—stomach stapling—for morbid obesity.

This was just one of the 27 breakout sessions offered at event along with 35 seminars. Eight missionary doctors and 28 HVQ physicians were among those who spoke to 480 people in Quito and 430 participants via satellite downlinks across Ecuador.

Topics followed the conference’s general theme, “Advances and Controversies in Medicine and Surgery—a Multidisciplinary Approach.”


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