Consultant Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgeons Mr Altaf Awan (left) and Mr Imran Bhatti

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton has pioneered an innovative form of surgery that is providing life-changing relief to patients with pancreatic conditions.

The Trust is the first in the UK to treat patients living with acute or chronic pancreatitis with advanced laparoscopic surgery, as opposed to traditional open surgery.

Advanced laparoscopic, or “keyhole surgery”, allows surgeons to treat damaged sections of the pancreas without making one large wound; instead making four small incisions and using a telescopic camera to perform complex procedures.

This minimally invasive procedure therefore reduces the amount of time patients have to stay in hospital following surgery, speeds up their recovery and reduces the risk of wound and chest infections.

Clinical Lead for Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery at the Trust, Mr Altaf Awan, said: “Traditionally, following open surgery, patients’ stay in hospital can be between 10-14 days, or sometimes even more. By avoiding creating a large rooftop wound that requires complex pain control, laparoscopic surgery is allowing us to reduce patients’ recovery from weeks to days. It’s fantastic that this approach is allowing patients to see clinical benefits, while also recovering faster following surgery.”

Consultant Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgeons Mr Awan and Mr Imran Bhatti have now carried out more than 20 advanced laparoscopic operations on patients with acute or chronic pancreatitis at the Royal Derby Hospital since October 2017.

These patients have seen a reduction in their hospital stay by between 3-4 days, while no patient has yet required admission to the Intensive Treatment Unit or required epidural pain relief.

Pancreatitis is a potentially life-threatening condition commonly caused by gallstones or alcohol consumption where the pancreas becomes inflamed and can become permanently damaged, with those affected feeling severe abdominal pain as a result.

Patient Christopher Hewitt, 52, underwent keyhole surgery to remove a cyst on his pancreas in March at the Royal Derby Hospital, after years of living with the pain brought on by recurrent acute pancreatitis.

He said: “Prior to this operation, I was having very few good days because the pain was just constant and excruciating. Things have got so much better since though; it has made such a massive difference. As an option, it was far less intrusive than open surgery and I was out of hospital much quicker. Every member of staff was fabulous throughout every step of my treatment and I’m so thankful to Mr Awan and his fantastic team for offering this solution and allowing me to get my life back.”

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton Executive Medical Director, Dr Magnus Harrison, said: “We’re extremely proud to be able to offer this pioneering and advanced form of surgery to our patients with acute or chronic pancreatitis. Our top priority as a Trust is always to provide the best care possible for our patients and by reducing patients’ recovery time and the risk of infection, this innovative form of surgery is doing just that.”