Our Trust is the first in the region to invest £90,000 in a laparoscopic ultrasound machine – reducing the need for an additional invasive procedure in many gallstones patients and saving them up to a week in waiting time.
Funded by the Trust’s charity, surgeons use the innovative probe to scan the common bile duct in gallstones patients suspected to have common bile duct stones. It quickly and efficiently identifies whether there are stones present.
If bile duct stones are found, these can be surgically removed in the same procedure.
This new one-stage procedure significantly reduces the need for further tests and explorations in many patients. For example, MRI scans and invasive endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) procedures where a tube is inserted down the throat and into the bile duct.
Consultants in upper gastrointestinal surgery Palanivelraju Gopalakrishnan and Ish Ahmed have spearheaded the project. They secured funds from the Trust’s charity North Tees and Hartlepool Together. Their colleagues at the Trust have supported them throughout.
Mr Gopalakrishnan said: “We’re thrilled to have this innovative piece of equipment in our Trust and we’ve already started training our staff up on how to use it. This new technique will dramatically shorten patients’ stay in hospital and will also remove the need for extra investigation and procedures.
“We can’t thank enough all the people who have helped in this process as we strive to radically improve our patient pathways.”
Funded by generous supporters
Our official charity, North Tees and Hartlepool Together, funded the £90,000 piece of equipment. Every year, the charity receives donations from generous supporters, including former patients, relatives of loved ones and local businesses.
Suzi Campbell, fundraising coordinator for the Trust, said: “This is one of the biggest pieces of equipment that North Tees and Hartlepool Together has funded so far. It’s a pleasure knowing that money raised by our community is dramatically improving the service as well as the care that our patients receive.”
Improving patient journeys
Mr Ahmed said: “We have been on a journey to improve the care we deliver to patients with gallstone disease and this is also reflected in our model health systems data.
“The provision of laparoscopic ultrasound will significantly reduce delays in the patient journey and will likely reduce readmissions in this patient cohort that continue to have recurrent biliary symptoms whilst on the waiting list for definitive treatment, such as surgery to remove their gallbladder.”