The Ramsay Way 2019 | 04 9
World-leading procedure changing lives
Two Melbourne surgeons are giving new hope to men suffering from erectile dysfunction due to
prostate cancer surgery, thanks to an innovative new procedure which can restore erectile function.
A recent study published in European Urology showed 71 per
cent of patients who underwent this procedure experienced
a return of their erectile function within 12 months.
This unique procedure, which is currently offered at Linacre
Private Hospital in Melbourne, has the potential to help
thousands of Australian men each year who have lost their
ability to have sexual intercourse following prostate surgery.
Plastic surgeon Chris Coombs and urologist David
Dangerfield are breaking new ground with a microsurgery
technique which uses nerve grafts from the lower limbs
to connect the femoral nerve in such a way that it brings
a new nerve supply to the penis.
The aim of the surgery is to restore the supply of the
chemical that the erectile nerves in the penis transmit to
trigger an erection. The same chemical is transmitted by
the femoral nerve which helps a person to walk.
With nerve growth of 1mm per day, there is a lag time
for the new nerves to reach the penis, with most men who
have undergone this surgery noticing some change in the
first six months with restoration of erectile function at 12
Prostate cancer is Australia’s second most common cancer
diagnosed in men and the third most common cause of
cancer death, with one in seven men diagnosed with
prostate cancer by the age of 85.
Around 8,500 radical prostatectomies are performed
each year, with up to 70 per cent of men undergoing this
procedure becoming impotent; a devastating side effect
of the life-saving surgery.
The two Linacre Private Hospital surgeons have so
far performed 50 post erectile function restoration
procedures. Dr Dangerfield is buoyed by the early results
and states that the potential of this procedure is significant.
“This is a major health problem and impotency has
enormous repercussions for not only men, but their
partners. Losing the intimacy they used to take for granted
can manifest in depression and a lack of self-worth,”
Dr Dangerfield said.
“The results speak for themselves,” Professor Coombs said.
“I know when the procedure has been a success because
patients walk into the room, head held high, with a huge
smile on their face.”
Real-time knee surgery
lesson at Westmead
Physiotherapists and GPs have watched a total
knee replacement operation being performed in
real-time, as part of a unique learning opportunity
at Westmead Private Hospital.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Edward Graham and physiotherapist
Sean Mungovan hosted the session for approximately
The audience learned about the surgical procedure and
techniques, along with pre and post-operative physiotherapy
The attendees provided positive feedback about the live
surgery session, including that it gave them skills to better
inform their patients of the expected outcomes from a total
in prostate cancer care
Greenslopes Private Hospital is marking more than
15 years since becoming the first site in Queensland
to offer a less invasive therapy for men with early
stage prostate cancer.
Urologist Dr Glen Wood, radiation oncologist Kumar Gogna
and physicist Adrian Gibbs were the first in Queensland to
start using brachytherapy, which involves implanting radiation
into a prostate, rather than beaming radiation through it.
Dr Wood said: “We were the first unit in Queensland to
commence offering this type of cancer treatment and we
have also been involved with mentoring units in Townsville,
Singapore and Wollongong in using the procedure.”
The therapy involves placing 60 to 80 rice grain-sized
radioactive seeds into the prostate, which slowly release
radiation to treat the cancer.
Brachytherapy can be effective for men who have been
diagnosed with early or intermediate stage prostate cancer;
it can decrease the risk of impotence in the first five years
“We put the seeds in with needles – not cuts – so it is truly
minimally invasive surgery that requires only one night of
hospital stay and has no associated wound pain or wound
recovery,” Dr Wood said.
Radiation oncologist Dr Kumar Gogna has been working
alongside Dr Wood since the procedure started at the
hospital and has noticed a transformation in the treatment.
Dr Gogna said: “These days we are able to put patients on
medication after their implant, so we really don’t see much
of an issue with their bladder.”
The procedure has a high success rate, with the outcomes
comparable to a cancer patient undergoing surgery.
“Patients who come to Greenslopes are receiving the highest
level of experience in brachytherapy. Most staff involved in
this procedure have been there from the start more than
15 years ago,” Dr Wood said.
Regenerated nerve fiber via
sural nerve graft
Image: Coombs / Ramsay Health Care / Dangerfield
Beleura Private Hospital
celebrates 100 cases
with Mako robot
Staff and surgeons at Beleura Private Hospital have
reached a new robotic milestone, recording their
100th procedure using the Mako robotic system.
The landmark case was a knee replacement performed by
orthopaedic surgeon Mr Peter Hamilton.
Beleura Private Hospital was able to achieve 100 robotic
cases due to some great collaboration among the hospital’s
Surgeons, nurses and medical staff at the facility are
dedicated to ensuring Mornington Peninsula residents
have access to this cutting edge technology.