Cutting Edge: Surgical advancement through research

Before the bright lights of the operating room are turned on and the surgeons and operating room staff are gowned and ready, research conducted at Lawson Health Research Institute has backed many of the surgical innovations and firsts performed at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

On October 5, Lawson hosted a Café Scientifique event where a panel of surgeons who are also Lawson scientists discussed their cutting-edge work. Guests had the opportunity to ask questions as part of an open-forum discussion to gain insights from the speakers, and from one another.

In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary as a nation, this event was the second of a two-part series focusing on the future vision for health care in Canada and the legacy that research at Lawson will leave. Research and knowledge-creation have been a hallmark of the various surgical areas at LHSC and St. Joseph’s since their inception, and the relationship between innovation and improving patient care has been an enduring trademark. Surgeon scientists have conducted and published research that has changed clinical practice worldwide.

Hand surgery: How small advances turn into complex surgical achievements

Dr. Bing Siang Gan, Lawson scientist, plastic surgeon, Hand and Upper Limb Centre, St. Joseph's

Bing Siang Gan

Dr. Gan has a particular research interest in the biology and treatment of Dupuytren's contracture and he uses conventional as well as minimal invasive procedures such as needle aponeurotomy and new collagenase enzyme injections to treat patients.

Dr. Gan explained how a better surgical understanding of Dupuytren's contracture combined with an understanding of the underlying gene factors, DNA, RNA, proteins, receptors, and collagen formation of the condition has led to pharmacological treatment options. The next step will be developing treatment options at every stage of Dupuytren's contracture to keep patients away from the operating room.

Transplant organ preservation: The best option may be “Stinky”

Dr. Alp Sener, Lawson scientist, transplant surgeon, Multi-organ Transplant Program, LHSC

Alp Sener

Dr. Sener maintains an active basic sciences and translational research laboratory focusing on gasotransmitter biology and therapeutics. Dr. Sener discussed the need to use “marginal” deceased donor kidneys - those from older donors, younger donors with existing medical issues, and donors post circulatory death – to treat end stage renal disease because due to a lack of donor supply.

Dr. Sener’s laboratory pioneered the use of hydrogen sulphide, a colourless gas with a strong “rotten egg” odor, to prolong organ storage, improve kidney re-perfusion, decrease dangerous inflammatory cells, promote quicker kidney function recovery, greater urine output and improve recipient survival.

Computer-assisted gastrointestinal surgery: Why can’t they see what I see?

Dr. Christopher Schlachta, Lawson scientist, medical director, Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics (CSTAR), LHSC

Christopher Schlachta

Dr. Schlachta’s current research interests are focused on development of computer-assisted surgical techniques and technologies to enhance care and training. Dr. Schlachta demonstrated how computer-assisted technologies in the operating room can enhance communication among surgeons and trainees to produce better outcomes for patients. He is currently partnering with industry to commercialize operating room technology he and a team of engineers at CSTAR have developed.

See more photos from this Café Scientifique on Lawson's Facebook page.