Hospital Dr News

“Too many using obsolete keyhole equipment”

Three out of ten hospitals offering keyhole surgery are operating with obsolete equipment, the first ever audit of laparoscopic operating theatres reveals.

The Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland found a wide variation in the availability and quality of equipment available in theatres across the UK. Only one in ten hospitals are operating with the highest standard of equipment and resources for carrying out safe, advanced laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is used for almost all gastrointestinal and abdominal operations, bringing patients the benefits of smaller scars, less pain and rapid recovery. Technology has moved on rapidly in recent years and high definition camera equipment provides laparoscopic surgeons with improved image quality. This has enabled surgeons to undertake more complex procedures, and promotes efficiency by shortening operations and preventing surgeon fatigue.

At the same time equipment has become safer. The surgical instruments inserted into the abdomen – called trocars – used to be sharp and made of metal which carried additional risk of puncturing organs or spreading infection. These have been phased out and the ALSGBI recommends the use of blunter, disposable trocars.

The National Audit of Theatre Equipment 2010 surveyed 474 hospitals asked them to outline the types of laparoscopic procedures regularly performed, the age, standard and type of equipment and how their equipment was powered and maintained. It graded the findings gold, silver and bronze.

The audit finds that nearly 25% of hospitals did not have a maintenance contract to replace broken equipment and 19% were using sharp, re-usable metal trocars.

However, 61% of hospitals were operating with ‘silver’ standard equipment.

Mr Mike Parker, past president of ALSGBI, said: “The view from the original laparoscopic cameras was like squinting through a goldfish bowl. In comparison, HD equipment has revolutionised practice.

“It is unbelievable that some surgeons are still having to use equipment which limits the operations they can perform safely. We hope the result of this audit encourages surgeons and management to discuss upgrading their equipment to improve standards and to reassure patients that the best service is being provided.”

Read the full report.

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