Abu Dhabi: The first telesurgery in the capital city was performed on a 14-year-old Emirati girl in front of a team of surgeons during the fourth Abu Dhabi Annual International Surgery Conference, Gulf News learnt.

The patient (whose name was not released due to confidentiality purposes) suffered from a small tumour in an adrenal gland.

Ali M. Ghellai, Consultant HPB (Liver, Pancreas and bile duct) Surgeon at Al Mafraq Hospital - organisers of the conference - performed the one-and-a-half hour minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in front of a team of surgeons watching the whole procedure live through a television screen - a new procedure known as telesurgery or remote surgery.

"This is one of the first telesurgeries in Abu Dhabi. While operating on the girl, I was answering questions from a room full of surgeons who watched the whole procedure live. It's a great way of exchanging on-hands information," said Ghellai.

Another well-known expression for MIS is endoscopic surgery, which is a surgical operation performed by the help of a small endoscopic camera and several long, thin, rigid instruments through natural body openings.

"Traditionally surgery was done using a one-foot incision below the rib cage and was painful. An MIS results in less pain, less strain of the organism; faster recovery; small injuries and economic gain (shorter illness time)," said the surgeon adding that three small holes (from five to 12mm) using a puncture were used to remove the tumour.

"Shortly after the surgery, the patient was able to walk and eat and she's ready to go home whenever she wants," said Ghellai. The live procedure took place on Thursday morning, marking the first day of the three day-conference which ended yesterday.

More than 100 lectures were held during the conference, out of which ten were workshops. Some of the topics discussed included 2009 safety procedures in surgery; when to operate; new advances in the surgical approach to breast cancer; how to communicate surgical errors to patients; live transplant in children and many more; however disaster and trauma surgery was the highlight of the whole event.

"Trauma is a life-threatening occurrence, either accidental or intentional, resulting in injuries," Ahmad Kloub, Chairman of Trauma Services, General Surgeon in Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Al Mafraq Hospital, told Gulf News.

"The leading causes of trauma are motor vehicle accidents and falls and it's the leading cause of death in the capital city, however since 2007 the mortality rate of trauma patients has been reduced by 17 per cent," he added.

Kloub explained that the trauma team is in the beginning stages of qualifying what he called a Level 1 trauma centre. "In order to qualify as a trauma centre, a hospital must meet certain criteria as established by the American College of Surgeons, and that takes upto three to four years. We receive up to 20 trauma patients, with at least one tragedy a day, mainly among victims in their 20's," said the doctor.

Adding to that, Toufik Tabbara, chairman of the organising committee for the conference and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Al Mafraq Hospital said that trauma not only includes medical care and/or surgery but also psychological assistance to patients and their families during and after a tragedy.

"That's why our emphasis during the conference was on the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to the surgical management in trauma and minimally invasive surgery," said the chairman.