Ministry of Health organises successful teaching webinar for kiwi colonoscopists

Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 14:26

Screenshot of webinar participants. After a busy week on the wards, what could persuade 75 colonoscopists to give up their Saturday morning to watch a two-hour livestream?

The attraction wasn’t a top-rating concert or sporting event. It was a webinar on performing polypectomy! For the uninitiated, that’s a blow by blow instruction on how to safely remove polyps or small growths from the large bowel or colon.

The webinar, live-streamed from St Marks National Bowel Hospital in London, was organised by Dr Susan Parry, Clinical Director Bowel Cancer, National Bowel Screening Programme, Population Health and Prevention, and supported by the New Zealand Society of Gastroenterology and the New Zealand Society of General Surgeons.

Dr Parry says there had been a number of requests for such a webinar over time but finding one that ‘ticked all the boxes’ proved difficult until St Marks was able to provide exactly what was needed. Dr Parry said the aim of the webinar was to demonstrate best practice polypectomy through a series of talks with videos from the renowned teaching hospital. 

‘It was a first for New Zealand and involved both surgeons and gastroenterologists who were able to watch international specialists who are at the top of their game. Many tuned in from the comfort of their homes and some endoscopy units were so enthusiastic they came in and watched it together,’ said Dr Parry.

Dr Parry says there are many specialist colonoscopists involved in the National Bowel Screening Programme, some with years of experience and some newer to the profession. A number have trained in different countries. She says the aim of the webinar was to support quality and consistency in the performance of colonoscopy and polypectomy. ‘The webinar demonstrated everything from best technique to how to handle difficult situations. There was an opportunity to ask questions of the experts and NZ panellists at the end of each section.’

As well as detecting bowel cancer, removing polyps is a big part of the work of colonoscopists working on the bowel screening programme, which is currently being rolled out around the country.

Dr Parry says 85 percent of people who have a colonoscopy in the bowel screening programme will have a biopsy or polyp removed. Around 25 percent will have advanced adenomas or polyps, which are pre-cancerous and serious, and 60 percent will have less serious adenomas or polyps. ’This means performing polypectomy correctly and safely is very important,’ she says.

The specialists who viewed the webinar were very positive about its value, said Dr Parry, and on the strength of that feedback, opportunities for similar events will be considered in the future.

Page last updated: 18 March 2021