Regional Sessions, College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka conducted by Department of Surgery 

A very special regional session of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka was held recently in Jaffna on 2nd 3rd and 4th June 2017. It was special because for the first time in this country a regional session had participants from overseas. The calibre of the participants was also impressive and included a Vice President of the American College of Surgeons. The sessions were organised and conducted by the staff of the Department of Surgery of the Faculty of Medicine University of Jaffna.

A very impressive program was arranged which proved to be of benefit to not only surgery registrars but also to the many surgeons working particularly in the North of the country. Participants for the pre sessions workshops and the sessions themselves were from Colombo, Kandy, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura as well as several from the Northern Province itself. Some medical students were also able to attend.

The following were the participants from the USA.

  • Prof.Mary McCarthy, Vice President ,American College of Surgeons and Professor of Surgery at Boonshoft Medical School, Dayton
  • Dr.Joon Shim, Asst. Professor of Surgery, Boonshoft Medical School, Dayton .Laparoscopic and robotic surgeon
  • Dr.Siva Vithiananthan, Asst. Professor of Surgery, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island and Head of Bariatric Surgery
  • Dr.Thavam Thambi-Pillai, Asst.Professor of Surgery,Head of Residency and Head of Transplant Center, Sanford Hospital,Sioux Falls
  • Dr.Ahilan Sivagansean, Senior Neuro Surgery Resident, In-Folded Orthopedic Spine Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville

The pre congress sessions were held from 31 May to 2 June and included basic and advanced laparoscopic training in the Operating Theatres as well as Simulator based laparoscopy training for registrars by Dr.Vithiananthan and  Dr.Joon Shim. Dr.Vithiananthan had also brought with him many items of equipment and laparoscopy trainers which will be of immense use in surgery and training. The theatre based workshops could not have happened without the full support of the anesthesia department and theatre staff. Training in doing a Focussed Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST scan) for registrars was done by Prof.McCarthy.

The Trauma Evaluation and Management Course (TEAM) is a course that the American College of Surgeons has designed for final year medical students and junior doctors which is based on the ATLS course. The TEAM course was conducted at the Faculty of Medicine by the surgeons from the USA under Prof.McCarthy’s leadership for thirty Medical Officers from across the Northern Province and lecturers from the Dept. Of Surgery of the Faculty of Medicine, Jaffna observed how to conduct the course. The ACS has granted permission for the Faculty of Medicine in Jaffna to conduct this course in future which will prove of immense benefit in training students and junior doctors in basic trauma management. The ACS has also given permission for its certificates to be issued to those attending the course at the Faculty. Our Faculty will be the first in the country to offer this internationally recognized course.

The sessions started with the inauguration on 2nd June at which Professor McCarthy was the Chief Guest. Her talk was on ‘Global Surgery Collaboration’ during which she touched on the medical work done in Jaffna by missionaries such as Dr.John Scudder from 1816 and Dr.Samuel Green who started the first medical school in the country in 1848. The Guest of Honour was Dr.B.G.N.Ratnasena, a highly respected senior surgeon many of whose trainees are now consultant surgeons in the province. Among the other speakers were the President of the CSSL,Prof.Lamawansa, the Dean of the Medical Faculty, Dr.Raviraj and the Jaffna representative, Dr.Rajendra.

The academic lectures were targeted at trainees and general surgeons to help them particularly in the management of trauma and were well received. Another unique aspect of these sessions was that the free papers were evaluated by a panel comprising members of the US team. A regular cash award has been instituted by Dr.Siva Vithiananthan and these were given to the best paper presented on each day.

During their time in Jaffna, the visiting surgeons were able to see the Medical Faculty and also have discussions with the Dean and staff of the surgery department on how to establish links for long term benefits.

It was not all work and no play as the participants were able to meet surgeons and trainees socially at two dinners that were arranged. The US guests were able to visit Scudder House in Pandaterippu and Green Memorial Hospital at Manipay where Dr.Scudder and Dr.Green had respectively worked. They were also able to visit local well known places during their stay.

The Jaffna Chapter of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka and the Department of Surgery can take great pride in a regional session that was of outstanding quality and brought many tangible benefits.