I had the privilege of attending the Tripartite meeting in Birmingham, England, July 2014 as the ASCRS Traveling Fellow. It was great to see surgeons from around the world come together to discuss problems that are common, and may be seen in a different light when looked at from distant parts of the world. It was reassuring to see how we are all working on the same difficult problems and learning from each other in trying to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.
I was particularly impressed by the ability of British and Irish surgeons to come together to conduct multicenter prospective trials on such important topics as colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. There were excellent talks on difficult pouches, peritoneal malignancies and achieving clear margins for rectal cancer. I particularly enjoyed an interesting, but also fun-filled panel discussion, where people were free to poke friendly fun at each other. The poster session offered great perspective on projects from around the world at all levels of training and expertise and was filled with interesting new ideas.
I had the honor of presenting my work on use of gabapentin in pain control after hemorrhoid surgery, which was well received, and very thoughtful questions were asked.
It was wonderful to interact with leaders of colorectal surgery and hear their ideas and perspectives. It was also great to see a number of ASCRS members, including past presidents, and although the U.S. soccer lost its match that Tuesday night, we all did our best to cheer our team.
I had an amazing trip overall, with my first stop in Dublin, where I was welcomed at the colorectal surgery department in St. Vincent’s University Hospital. I learned a lot about their approach to cancer and pelvic floor problems. I was particularly impressed by their multidisciplinary approach to inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their medical student education.
On my next stop at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, I saw first-hand the impressive results of rigorous and robust approach to peritoneal malignancies. I was one of five visitors from three different continents there at that time, all coming together to learn.
On my last stop at the University of Leeds, I was impressed by their very busy practice of re-operative rectal cancers. They are able to maintain a busy urban hospital, while reaping the benefits of robust data collection and sharing, which can give us insights into problems both rare and common.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I thank the ASCRS and the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland (ACPGBI), especially Drs. Ronan O’Connell (St. Vincent’s), Brendan Moran (Basingstoke), Peter M. Sagar (Leeds) and Paul J. Finan (Leeds) and everyone else involved in making this trip not only possible but also extraordinary.