Vietnamese and American doctors performed a Pacific Partnership surgery-first aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) 14 July, during Pacific Partnership 2012’s (PP12) visit to Vinh, Vietnam.
Navy Urologist Lt. Cmdr. Sean Stoup and Vietnamese Urologist Dr.
Bang Ngoe Le performed the innovative single incision laparoscopic
case, the first of its kind to be performed during a humanitarian
assistance operation, during a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE)
off the coast of Vinh, Vietnam.
Laparoendoscopic single-site (LESS) surgery is a technically
advanced, minimally invasive surgical approach that has been shown
to limit postoperative pain and minimize scarring.
Stroup said the surgery was to remove a large symptomatic renal
cyst, a fluid collection in the kidney.
“The surgery was performed through a 2.5 cm incision hidden near the
bellybutton using a telescopic camera and two long instruments,” he
said. “Through that one incision, we places three trocars (used to
create the pathways to the cyst) and were able to remove the cyst
Dr. Bang said this was the first time he has performed an endoscopic
“I learned a lot of new techniques working with Dr. Stroup,” he
said. “I hope I will be able to apply these techniques to the cases
at my hospital, because this is a surgery technique my hospital
plans to use in the near future.”
Stroup said the patient, a 72 year-old Vietnamese woman, recovered
“She recovered beautifully and was discharged home on the first
post-operative day,” he said. “She didn’t experience any pain and
only had a small incision around her bellybutton.”
Stroup said post-operation care has been made easy by working with
Dr. Bang because Bang is able to coordinate follow-up care on
patients, including this one, in case any problems arise.
“I think it is right in line with the SMEEs during PP12,” he said.
“It was wonderful sharing ideas and talking about different
techniques and operating together.
“I feel fortunate that the Navy has enabled me to gain this
additional training and be able to pass it on to our host nation
physicians, so they can apply it where they are.”
The LESS surgery was performed aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) in
support of PP12. Approximately 125 patients have already been
selected for surgeries while Mercy is off the coast of Vinh, with
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S.
Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S.
military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations
and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships
and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.