Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Monday, 8th October 2007-Breakthrough Research at RCSI Advances Pain Relief

08 October 2007

Breakthrough new research carried out at the Department of Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is proving extremely effective in providing pain relief for patients after surgical operations. The innovative technique of infiltrating local anaesthetic at a particular point in the abdomen has resulted in a decrease in pain and improved healing times after abdominal surgery.

Dr John McDonnell, Specialist Registrar in Anaesthesia and Dr Tom Farrell, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy, RCSI, discovered that when local anaesthetic is injected into the patient at the Triangle of Petit, a small area above the side of the pelvis, the entire abdomen becomes insensitive to pain. This has great benefits for post-operative recovery including quicker mobilisation of the patient and less time spent in hospital.

Dr John McDonnell and Dr Tom Farrell pictured outside the Anatomy Department at RCSI

The technique is currently undergoing clinical trials both internationally and in all of the major Dublin teaching hospitals. Results have been very promising for several major abdominal surgical procedures such as Caesarean sections, hysterectomies and other procedures carried out using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

The work has been presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anaesthesia, and at the European Society for Regional Anaesthesia in Monte Carlo where it took first prize.

"This is a major breakthrough in both pain relief and anaesthesia" said Dr McDonnell, Specialist Registrar in Anaesthesia at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan. "As well as helping patients recover faster from operations it also cuts down on the need for strong analgesics such as morphine in a post operative context."

Prof. Brian Harvey, RCSI's Director of Research said "This new breakthrough is a direct example of the world class research that is being carried out at RCSI in collaboration with its teaching hospitals. Research is an essential activity of RCSI and forms a vital part of its very fabric. As a centre for world-class Translational Medical research, in which RCSI scientists work in close collaboration with hospital clinicians to understand the mechanisms of human disease and to develop novel techniques and therapies, such as this one that will ultimately benefit patients."