Surgical management of neonatal congenital tricuspid valve anomaly

Simple silhouette of a baby with a heart, lungs, and major vessels drawn on top
I undertook my MD Research Project with the Heart Centre for Children, at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW). My primary supervisor was Professor David Winlaw, a paediatric cardiac surgeon and Head of the Heart Centre. My research was a review of the neonatal surgical and peri-operative management of a condition called Ebstein anomaly, which is a congenital malformation of the tricuspid valve that presents only very rarely – but when it does in a neonate, it can be with absent forward pulmonary flow, and gross right heart dilation – a blue baby. Urgent prostaglandin stabilisation is usually required, until the fœtal circulation definitively transitions, or with surgical intervention. Our research was a review of the surgical procedures conducted (and of their outcomes), as a number of different strategies can be performed, many with quite high rates of failure. The appropriate surgical algorithm for management of these neonates has not yet been elucidated.

I liked working on this project – first of all, because it was something that interested me. The project could be very demanding of my time, with deadlines for abstract and manuscript submission, and a lot of quite foreign concepts to rapidly come up to speed with. The only way that it’s possible to effectively dedicate yourself to clinical research is if you have a good idea a) of why you like it, and b) how and why it is helping. I met many interesting health professionals during my project – statisticians, cardiac surgeons, paediatric cardiologists, nurse researchers, secretaries, and even the person with the keys to the CHW basement! And everyone was necessary. It was a particular reward to get to travel to the United States to present my research in front of the surgeons who had invented and named the surgical techniques I was comparing!

I don’t think it is necessary to have a surgical career focus to do surgical research – nor do I think that you should do surgical research purely to gain surgical experience (e.g. I didn’t once step inside a theatre for the purpose of my research). But I think it is a very useful area of research in which there is lots of potential for development and which has real implications for the future. Above all – it is fun to be an expert at something! After a lot of time being a med student with only a vague understanding of most things, it is very rewarding to feel you have a good grasp on a particular area. Good luck to anyone who is pursuing surgical research!

By Jack Luxford, Stage 3 Year 4 (2017)

SUSS and SUPS Present Paediatric Thoracoscopic Surgery Grand Rounds

SUSS and SUPS Present Paediatric Thoracoscopic Surgery Grand Rounds

The Sydney University Surgical Society (SUSS) and Paediatric Society (SUPS) have come together to present the first “Paediatric Thoracoscopic Surgical Grand Rounds”.

Dr Jonathan Karpelowsky will discuss the thoracoscopic approach to paediatric surgery, which has become an increasingly common technique for lung resection, biopsy, and management of empyema, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, oesophageal atresia, pectus deformities, vascular abnormalities and pneumothorax.

Dr Jonathan Karpelowsky is a staff specialist in the Department of Paediatric Surgery at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He is a general surgeon, with sub-specialties in hepatobiliary and thoracic surgery.

This event will be particularly relevant to stage 1 students who will have completed their respiratory medicine block, but will be of interest to all students interested in paediatrics, surgery, or both!

Date: Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Location: Scot Skirving Lecture Theatre, Level 6, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Please RSVP on the Facebook event.