It’s been hailed as a world first.

While two Brisbane doctors prepare for surgery on a patient with bowel cancer, on the other side of the world, 3,000 surgeons in Rome were getting a first hand look at the procedure on their computer screens.

Rhianna Bull reports.


Technology has always played a huge role in medical advancement now the Internet has taken it a step further.

Doctors Andrew Stevenson and David Clark, pioneered colorectal keyhole surgery more than a decade ago.

And now for the first time, doctors from around the world can watch the procedure over the Internet.

Dr Andrew Stevenson, Holy Spirit Northside Colorectal Surgeon: “We couldn’t do this sort of surgery 20 years ago when it was first started simply because the equipment wasn’t good enough.”

The advanced, state of the art equipment, connectivity and technology now avaliable in Queensland hospitals has revolutionised the treatment of colorectal diseases.

The live broadcast shows new techniques in keyhole surgery, used for the treatment of rectal prolapse and rectal cancer.

With more than fourteen thousand cases reported each year Australia has the second highest rate of bowel cancer in the world.

Dr Andrew Stevenson, Holy Spirit Northside Colorectal Surgeon: “About one in seventeen males have a risk of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime and that risk is slightly less in females which is about one in twenty-four patients so it’s extremely common.”

What’s not common is this new procedure. Only ten per cent of all cases are being treated with keyhole surgery.

The common practice of open surgery requires a large cut across the abdomen which usually ends in a five to six day stay in hospital. Now as a day case procedure, the smaller keyhole surgery eliminates many of these problems and allows for a much earlier recovery and return to work.

Dr Andrew Stevenson, Holy Spirit Northside Colorectal Surgeon: “The treatment that we are doing laparoscopically is the focus of a new multi-national radomised trial which has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.”

But with growing concerns over possible cuts to the Federal budget it’s feared medical research will suffer.

Dr Andrew Stevenson, Holy Spirit Northside Colorectal Surgeon: “The next step is being from laparoscopic onto robotics. Being in its infancy at the moment and the next step will basically have small robots which place inside the patient themselves.”

It seems that with a push of a button, anything’s possible.

Rhianna Bull, QUT News.