Ashtyn Barrientes, a fourth-year student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, presented her team’s research at the recent 2019 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in San Francisco.
“This was my first conference as a medical student, and it was definitely an ideal and enlightening place to start,” Barrientes said. “It was an honor to present on one of the biggest stages in the surgery field. As a future surgeon, it was exciting to dive into data to see how the lives of patients can be improved in coming years.”
Ioannis Konstantinidis, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at TTUHSC El Paso, said it is an honor for a medical student like Barrientes to be invited to present research at the prestigious ACS Clinical Congress.
“We are all proud of our medical students presenting at the world’s most important surgical meeting,” Dr. Konstantinidis said. “They represent the bright future of our university.”
Barrientes presented the results of a study that compared patient outcomes following minimally invasive surgery versus open surgery (using a large abdominal incision) for biliary cancer, also known as bile duct cancer. Bile ducts move bile from the liver to the small intestine to help the body digest dietary fats.
With minimally invasive surgery, a surgeon uses very small incisions and specialized surgical instruments — sometimes aided by robotic systems — to operate on the affected area.
Patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery for certain types of biliary cancer had shorter hospital stays compared to those who had open surgery. Minimally invasive surgery for gallbladder cancer, in particular, was associated with shorter hospitalizations and lower rates of readmission and mortality.
“Historically these cancers have been treated using open surgery,” Barrientes said. “Our research shows that minimally invasive surgery is producing positive results for many patients seeking treatment for biliary cancer.”
The ACS Clinical Congress, held October 27-31, 2019, is one of the world’s largest international meetings of surgeons. The annual conference features education and training opportunities for surgeons, surgery residents, medical students and members of surgical teams. Over 12,300 participants attended the conference.