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2013 ASCRS Traveling Fellow Report
Colorectal problems similar, but you have to appreciate their sense of humor ‘across the pond’

By Dana M Hayden, MD, MPH

Dr. Dana HaydenI had the privilege of attending the annual meeting for the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland held in Liverpool, England, July 1-3, 2013. Throughout the conference, what struck me as interesting was the similarity of problems that face colorectal surgeons across the Atlantic to those we face here. Common themes throughout the conference included how to manage extremely low rectal cancers, stage IV colon cancers, and the problematic stoma. These extremely difficult diseases and conditions appeared just as common and were just as frustrating to the British and Irish surgeons.

What was slightly different, besides the accents of all the speakers, was the sense of humor presented during panel discussions and throughout most of the talks. Arguments were jovial, and criticisms were handled wittily. My favorite of the insightful recommendations for treatment of high ostomy output was to increase the amount of baguettes consumed; which I will embrace personally, even without a stoma.

The poster sessions also showed the similarity of difficult colon and anorectal conditions that we both share. I was impressed with the ingenuity of some of the novel approaches, including trying to increase lymph node harvest with ex vivo methylene blue injection and using CT volumetric models to predict laparoscopic difficulty. I learned a great deal from these innovative ideas, and I hope to incorporate them into my research and practices.

My trip was a great pleasure and honor. I had the privilege of presenting our rectal cancer tumor scatter study during a research forum, which was well received, and the audience asked great questions. We were so kindly welcomed to the association, evidenced by the gracious council dinner held at the tallest building in Liverpool. The restaurant had an incredible view, but what I most enjoyed was talking with past and current presidents, some of whom have close ties with ASCRS members, even mentors of my own.

It was an extraordinary experience, happily concluded with a visit to Dublin, Ireland. Of course, a little time was spent enjoying Guinness in elegant old pubs, but my time spent at the Royal College of Surgeons was the most educational. The grand building tells the political history of Dublin, down to the bullet holes in the doors. I was asked to “sing for my supper,” as I spoke on a panel during an emergency surgery conference. It was nice to reinforce the principles of oncologic surgery when there are times we get caught up in the “to anastomose or not to anastomose” question during urgent operations.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I must thank the ASCRS and the ACPGBI as well as Mr. Adam Scott and Dr. Deborah McNamara and everyone else involved in making this trip not only possible but also extraordinary.