Consultant helps introduce surgical technique to West African doctors

A Bradford consultant has introduced a new medical procedure to doctors in the West African country of Benin.

Dr Harry Bardgett, a Consultant Radiologist at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), learned of the plight of people suffering from kidney stones in economically developing African nations during a chance meeting with Eastbourne-based consultant urologist, Graham Watson, who runs charity the Medi Tech Trust.

It is dedicated to the promotion of urological surgery and donation of medical equipment and surgical goods in the UK and the developing world.

The African visit is the second trip Dr Bardgett has made with the charity. In February 2017 he travelled to Sri Lanka where the charity has established multiple ‘Ultra Mini PCNL’ (percutaneous nephrolithotomy) sites to allow treatment for patients throughout the island.

This innovative technique enables doctors to glean better pictures of the kidneys, allowing them to shatter and extract stones using an endoscope and negating the need to revert to open surgery with its associated risks to patients.

Last month’s trip to Benin’s principle city and West Africa’s largest port, Cotonou, saw Dr Bardgett and Mr Watson remove kidney stones from 16 patients using PCNL techniques and innovative equipment the charity has donated to the country.

The pair were based at the Centre National Hospitalier Universitaire – Hubert K Maga, where they also trained local doctors.

“In Benin, urology patients with kidney stones have either no treatment or open surgery – which can only be performed once – yet most will have recurrent disease which means they will need ongoing treatment,” Dr Bardgett said.

Modern stone procedures

“The Medi Tech Trust trains surgeons in modern stone procedures by using endoscopes (tiny cameras which help doctors to see inside the kidney) as opposed to carrying out open surgery.

“PCNL ultrasound access has huge benefits for doctors too as it helps them identify which part of the kidney to puncture into. Doctors can then can see the renal stones and glean important information on the structures around the kidney.

“PCNL benefits for patients include reduced blood loss, less damage to the kidney and a shorter hospital stay. For some, the stay can be as little as 24 hours, as opposed to around four to five days.”

Thanks to the training that the Benin doctors received during last month’s trip, they are now able to offer treatment using the equipment donated by the Trust.

Dr Bardgett added: “During our next trip in six-to-12 months, they will receive more training to help them become a completely independent practice.

“By our third visit, the surgeons will be sufficiently proficient to train other doctors from neighbouring countries who will come to Cotonou to learn these new techniques, so even more patients will benefit.”

During the week-long trip, the charity also donated other equipment for the hospital to use in future operations.

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