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1.  Assessment of a course of realistic surgical training during medical education as a tool for pre-residential surgical training 
BMC Medical Education  2016;16:45.
In recent years the focus on practical skills in the German curriculum of medical school has increased greatly. In this study we evaluate the value of a practical surgery course for medical students as a tool for surgical education, as a way of enhancing interest in surgical fields, and as a method of influencing medical students to subsequently choose a surgical career.
The “Feel like a surgeon”-course is an optional practical surgery course in which topographical anatomy and realistic surgical training using fresh human cadavers are combined for medical students of the RWTH Aachen University. Between 2010 and 2015 every student completed a survey before starting and after completing our course, and in 2015 a follow-up was performed. Using a standardized questionnaire, course quality, learning success and impact on post-instructional career and choice of profession was evaluated.
In total, 82 students attended our course between 2010 and 2015 and took part in the evaluation. Evaluation of the course was positive overall, with an average grade of 1.4° ± °0.50. Significant improvement of basic, as well as more complex surgical skills and theoretical knowledge was noted. Furthermore, self-confidence for patient related assignments improved as well. In the follow-up evaluation, a high level of recommendation for surgical residents was seen, as was a high influence of the course on our students’ career choice, although no significant change in career plans before and after taking the course was noted.
Our results indicate that a practical surgical course can be a valuable tool to prepare students for a surgical residency and to improve their practical skills generally.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12909-016-0568-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4739082  PMID: 26842357
Medical education; Teaching; Academic acquisition; Manual skills; Practical education; Surgical education
2.  Extended surgical resection for xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis mimicking advanced gallbladder carcinoma: A case report and review of literature 
Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis (XGC) is a destructive inflammatory disease of the gallbladder, rarely involving adjacent organs and mimicking an advanced gallbladder carcinoma. The diagnosis is usually possible only after pathological examination. A 46 year-old woman was referred to our center for suspected gallbladder cancer involving the liver hilum, right liver lobe, right colonic flexure, and duodenum. Brushing cytology obtained by endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC) showed high-grade dysplasia. The patient underwent an en-bloc resection of the mass, consisting of right lobectomy, right hemicolectomy, and a partial duodenal resection. Pathological examination unexpectedly revealed an XGC.
Only six cases of extended surgical resections for XGC with direct involvement of adjacent organs have been reported so far. In these cases, given the possible coexistence of XGC with carcinoma, malignancy cannot be excluded, even after cytology and intraoperative frozen section investigation. In conclusion, due to the poor prognosis of gallbladder carcinoma on one side and possible complications deriving from highly aggressive inflammatory invasion of surrounding organs on the other side, it seems these cases should be treated as malignant tumors until proven otherwise. Clinicians should include XGC among the possible differential diagnoses of masses in liver hilum.
PMCID: PMC4087666  PMID: 16610041
Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis; Gallbladder cancer; Gallbladder carcinoma
3.  Presurgical assessment of bariatric patients with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)—A screening of the prevalence of psychosocial comorbidity 
Bariatric surgery has gained increasing relevance due to the dramatic rise in morbid obesity prevalence. A sound body of scientific literature demonstrates positive long-term outcome of bariatric surgery in decreasing mental and physical health morbidity. Still, there is a need for a manageable presurgical screening to assess major mental disorders. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of common psychiatric syndromes in bariatric surgery candidates using a computerized version of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ).
In a prospective cohort study from August 2009 to July 2011 morbidly obese individuals seeking bariatric treatment were evaluated for mental health disorders using the PHQ (computerized German version).
A total of 159 patients were included in this study. The median age of participants was 42 years, the median BMI was 49 kg/m2. The PHQ revealed a prevalence of 84 % for mental health disorders, 50 % of the participants had three or more mental health disorders. A high somatic symptom burden (46 %), depressive syndromes (62 %) and anxiety disorders (29 %) were the most frequent psychiatric syndromes. The median number of psychiatric syndromes was 3 for women and 1 for men (p = 0.007). No correlation between BMI and a single syndrome or the sum of syndromes was observed.
84 % of the patients seeking bariatric treatment were screened positive for at least one mental health disorder. The computerized PHQ with automated reporting appears to be a useful instrument for presurgical assessment of bariatric patients in routine medical settings.
PMCID: PMC4460674  PMID: 26059334
Obesity; Bariatric surgery; Patient health questionnaire; Computerized; Mental health disorder; Self reporting
4.  Sarcopenia, obesity and sarcopenic obesity: effects on liver function and volume in patients scheduled for major liver resection 
Sarcopenia, obesity and sarcopenic obesity have been linked to impaired outcome after liver surgery. Preoperative liver function of sarcopenic, obese and sarcopenic-obese patients might be reduced, possibly leading to more post-operative morbidity. The aim of this study was to explore whether liver function and volume were influenced by body composition in patients undergoing liver resection.
In 2011 and 2012, all consecutive patients undergoing the methacetin breath liver function test were included. Liver volumetry and muscle mass analysis were performed using preoperative CT scans and Osirix® software. Muscle mass and body-fat% were calculated. Predefined cut-off values for sarcopenia and the top two body-fat% quintiles were used to identify sarcopenia and obesity, respectively. Histologic assessment of the resected liver gave insight in background liver disease.
A total number of 80 patients were included. Liver function and volume were comparable in sarcopenic(-obese) and non-sarcopenic(-obese) patients. Obese patients showed significantly reduced liver function [295 (95–508) vs. 358 (96–684) µg/kg/h, P = 0.018] and a trend towards larger liver size [1694 (1116–2685) vs. 1533 (869–2852) mL, P = 0.079] compared with non-obese patients. Weight (r = −0.40), body surface area (r = −0.32), estimated body-fat% (r = −0.43) and body mass index (r = −0.47) showed a weak but significant negative (all P < 0.05) correlation with liver function. Moreover, body-fat% was identified as an independent factor negatively affecting the liver function.
Sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity did not seem to influence liver size and function negatively. However, obese patients had larger, although less functional, livers, indicating dissociation of liver function and volume in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4458081  PMID: 26136191
Sarcopenia; Obesity; L3 skeletal muscle index; Body fat percentage; Liver function; LiMAx; Volumetry
5.  Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Liver Cirrhosis: Surgical Resection versus Transarterial Chemoembolization—A Meta-Analysis 
We compare the value of TACE to liver resection for patients with BCLC stage A and B HCC. For patients with HCC in cirrhosis LT is the treatment of choice. TACE represents the current standard for unresectable BCLC stage B patients not eligible for LT. Recently liver resection for HCC and significant cirrhosis has become increasingly popular. A systematic search of the literature and meta-analysis was conducted to identify studies, reporting short- and long-term results of hepatic resection versus TACE for HCC treatment. The data were analyzed regarding the odds for 30-day mortality and hazard ratio for overall-survival. 12 studies comparing short- and long-term outcome of HR versus TACE for HCC were identified. Peri-interventional mortality and overall survival were investigated. Peri-interventional mortality was higher for surgical resection (n.s.), and overall-survival was significantly better for surgically treated patients at one year (P = 0.002) and 3 years (P ≤ 0.00001). The hazard ratio of overall-survival for all twelve studies was 0.70 (P = 0.0001) and significantly in favor of surgical treatment. Although large RCTs are missing and the available data are limited and not homogeneous a reappraisal of the current treatment guidelines should be considered based on the superior long-term outcome for surgically treated patients.
PMCID: PMC4302354  PMID: 25642245
6.  Fulminant Epstein-Barr virus - infectious mononucleosis in an adult with liver failure, splenic rupture, and spontaneous esophageal bleeding with ensuing esophageal necrosis: a case report 
Infectious mononucleosis is a clinical syndrome most commonly associated with primary Epstein-Barr virus infection. The majority of patients with infectious mononucleosis recovers without apparent sequelae. However, infectious mononucleosis may be associated with several acute complications. In this report we present a rare case of esophageal rupture that has never been described in the literature before.
Case presentation
We present the case of an 18-year-old Caucasian man affected by severe infectious mononucleosis complicated by fulminant hepatic failure, splenic rupture and esophageal necrosis.
Although primary Epstein-Barr virus infection is rarely fatal, fulminant infection may occur - in this case leading to hepatic failure, splenic rupture and esophageal necrosis, subsequently making several surgical interventions necessary. We show here that infectious mononucleosis is not only a strictly medical condition, but can also lead to severe surgical complications.
PMCID: PMC3927871  PMID: 24499457
Infectious mononucleosis; Epstein-Barr virus; Esophageal necrosis; Hepatic failure
7.  Influence of 4% icodextrin solution on peritoneal tissue response and adhesion formation 
BMC Surgery  2013;13:34.
Postoperative peritoneal adhesion formation following abdominal surgery remains a relevant surgical problem. The application of soluble physico-chemical barriers like 4% icodextrin is one approach to protect the peritoneal surface from getting linked to adhesive scar. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of 4% icodextrin on peritoneal tissue response both of visceral and parietal peritoneum, adhesion formation and wound healing.
40 rats were divided into two groups. After creation of an intraabdominal defect, either 4% icodextrin (Adept®) or sodium chloride was applied. Animals were sacrificed after 7 and 21 days. Adhesions were scored by an adhesion score. Furthermore, immunohistochemical investigations were conducted to determine the discrete influence of icodextrin on the parietal and visceral peritoneal tissue responses (CD68+ macrophages, CD3+ T-lymphocytes, vimentin for mesenchymal cells, HBME-1 for mesothelial cells, and as components of wound healing COX-2, C-myc, catenin).
Postoperative peritoneal adhesions were predominantly present in the sodium chloride group as compared to the icodextrin group (14/19 (74%) vs. 9/19 (47%); p = 0.048). The adhesion score however did not reveal any significant differences, (p = 0.614). Furthermore, the expression of vimentin in both the parietal and visceral peritoneum after 21 days was significantly lower in the icodextrin group than in the sodium chloride group (p = 0.038 and p = 0.028, respectively). No significant differences were observed for macrophages, lymphocytes, reperitonealisation or the expression of COX-2, C-myc or Catenin.
The intraperitoneal application of 4% icodextrin reduces adhesion formation in comparison to sodium chloride. 4% icodextrin solution reduces the inflammatory and mesenchymal infiltrate in the wounded area, thus improving the ratio of mesothel cells to mesenchymal infiltrate. As demonstrated, icodextrin is able to ameliorate the local tissue response. Further experimental studies would be done to elaborate the impact on the early response of the adaptive immune system, which may then trigger the subsequent wound healing and tissue repair.
PMCID: PMC3846168  PMID: 24020840
Postoperative peritoneal adhesions; Icodextrin; Adept; Inflammatory response; Peritoneal wound healing
8.  Initial diagnosis of Wegener’s granulomatosis mimicking severe ulcerative colitis: a case report 
We describe the case of a woman with an unusual presentation of Wegener’s granulomatosis.
Case presentation
A 20-year old Caucasian woman presented with the principal feature of a pancolonic, superficial microulceration mimicking severe ulcerative colitis. Our patient was refractory to therapy and had persisting signs of septic shock as well as being at risk of perforation, so we performed a subtotal colectomy and a cholecystectomy due to the incipient necrosis of her gallbladder. Histologic analysis of her colon showed multiple superficial microulcera of the mucosa, lamina propria mucosae and, to a lesser extent, the lamina submucosa. The medium-sized arteries and arterioles of her entire colon, appendix and gallbladder showed acute vasculitic changes with fibrinoid necrosis of the walls and diffuse infiltration with neutrophil granulocytes, accompanied by a strong perivascular histiocyte-rich and partially granulomatous reaction. These findings strongly suggested an autoimmune multisystem disease like Wegener’s granulomatosis or microscopic polyangiitis. A diagnosis of Wegener’s granulomatosis was confirmed by the results of serologic antibody tests: her cytoplasmic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody titer was considerably elevated at 1:2560 specific for subclass proteinase 3 (>200kU/L). After the histopathological diagnosis and serological tests, immunosuppression with high doses of corticosteroids and plasmapheresis was started.
In critically ill patients with severe, therapy-refractory ulcerative colitis, Wegener´s granulomatosis should be considered and serologic antibody testing should be performed.
PMCID: PMC3674933  PMID: 23718545
9.  Intrathoracic versus Cervical Anastomosis after Resection of Esophageal Cancer: A matched pair analysis of 72 patients in a single center study 
The aim of this study was to analyze the early postoperative outcome of esophageal cancer treated by subtotal esophageal resection, gastric interposition and either intrathoracic or cervical anastomosis in a single center study.
72 patients who received either a cervical or intrathoracic anastomosis after esophageal resection for esophageal cancer were matched by age and tumor stage. Collected data from these patients were analyzed retrospectively regarding morbidity and mortality rates.
Anastomotic leakage rate was significantly lower in the intrathoracic anastomosis group than in the cervical anastomosis group (4 of 36 patients (11%) vs. 11 of 36 patients (31%); p = 0.040). The hospital stay was significantly shorter in the intrathoracic anastomosis group compared to the cervical anastomosis group (14 (range 10–110) vs. 26 days (range 12 – 105); p = 0.012). Wound infection and temporary paresis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve occurred significantly more often in the cervical anastomosis group compared to the intrathoracic anastomosis group (28% vs. 0%; p = 0.002 and 11% vs. 0%; p = 0.046). The overall In-hospital mortality rate was 6% (4 of 72 patients) without any differences between the study groups.
The present data support the assumption that the transthoracic approach with an intrathoracic anastomosis compared to a cervical esophagogastrostomy is the safer and more beneficial procedure in patients with carcinoma of the lower and middle third of the esophagus due to a significant reduction of anastomotic leakage, wound infection, paresis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve and shorter hospital stay.
PMCID: PMC3489570  PMID: 22866813
Esophageal cancer; Esophageal resection; Cervical anastomosis; Intrathoracic anastomosis; Transthoracic; Transhiatal
10.  Extended Distal Pancreatectomy with En Bloc Resection of the Celiac Axis for Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer: A Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Case Reports in Medicine  2012;2012:543167.
Due to a lack of early symptoms, pancreatic cancers of the body and tail are discovered mostly at advanced stages. These locally advanced cancers often involve the celiac axis or the common hepatic artery and are therefore declared unresectable. The extended distal pancreatectomy with en bloc resection of the celiac artery may offer a chance of complete resection. We present the case of a 48-year-old female with pancreatic body cancer invading the celiac axis. The patient underwent laparoscopy to exclude hepatic and peritoneal metastasis. Subsequently, a selective embolization of the common hepatic artery was performed to enlarge arterial flow to the hepatobiliary system and the stomach via the pancreatoduodenal arcades from the superior mesenteric artery. Fifteen days after embolization, the extended distal pancreatectomy with splenectomy and en bloc resection of the celiac axis was carried out. The postoperative course was uneventful, and complete tumor resection was achieved. This case report and a review of the literature show the feasibility and safety of the extended distal pancreatectomy with en bloc resection of the celiac axis. A preoperative embolization of the celiac axis may avoid ischemia-related complications of the stomach or the liver.
PMCID: PMC3332186  PMID: 22567019
11.  Gentamicin supplemented polyvinylidenfluoride mesh materials enhance tissue integration due to a transcriptionally reduced MMP-2 protein expression 
BMC Surgery  2012;12:1.
A beneficial effect of gentamicin supplemented mesh material on tissue integration is known. To further elucidate the interaction of collagen and MMP-2 in chronic foreign body reaction and to determine the significance of the MMP-2-specific regulatory element (RE-1) that is known to mediate 80% of the MMP-2 promoter activity, the spatial and temporal transcriptional regulation of the MMP-2 gene was analyzed at the cellular level.
A PVDF mesh material was surface modified by plasma-induced graft polymerization of acrylic acid (PVDF+PAAc). Three different gentamicin concentrations were bound to the provided active sites of the grafted mesh surfaces (2, 5 and 8 μg/mg). 75 male transgenic MMP-2/LacZ mice harbouring the LacZ reporter gene under control of MMP-2 regulatory sequence -1241/+423, excluding the RE-1 were randomized to five groups. Bilateral of the abdominal midline one of the five different meshes was implanted subcutaneously in each animal. MMP-2 gene transcription (anti-ß-galactosidase staining) and MMP-2 protein expression (anti-MMP-2 staining) were analyzed semiquantitatively by immunohistochemistry 7, 21 and 90 days after mesh implantation. The collagen type I/III ratio was analyzed by cross polarization microscopy to determine the quality of mesh integration.
The perifilamentary ß-galactosidase expression as well as the collagen type I/III ratio increased up to the 90th day for all mesh modifications, whereas no significant changes could be observed for MMP-2 protein expression between days 21 and 90. Both the 5 and 8 μg/mg gentamicin group showed significantly reduced levels of ß-galactosidase expression and MMP-2 positive stained cells when compared to the PVDF group on day 7, 21 and 90 respectively (5 μg/mg: p < 0.05 each; 8 μg/mg: p < 0.05 each). Though the type I/III collagen ratio increased over time for all mesh modifications significant differences to the PVDF mesh were only detected for the 8 μg/mg group at all 3 time points (p < 0.05 each).
Our current data indicate that lack of RE-1 is correlated with increased mesh induced MMP-2-gene expression for coated as well as for non-coated mesh materials. Gentamicin coating reduced MMP-2 transcription and protein expression. For the 8 μg/mg group this effect is associated with an increased type I/III collagen ratio. These findings suggest that gentamicin is beneficial for tissue integration after mesh implantation, which possibly is mediated via RE-1.
PMCID: PMC3296653  PMID: 22244356
mesh; gentamicin; PVDF; matrix metalloproteinase 2; wound healing
12.  Tension of knotted surgical sutures shows tissue specific rapid loss in a rodent model 
BMC Surgery  2011;11:36.
Every surgical suture compresses the enclosed tissue with a tension that depends from the knotting force and the resistance of the tissue. The aim of this study was to identify the dynamic change of applied suture tension with regard to the tissue specific cutting reaction.
In rabbits we placed single polypropylene sutures (3/0) in skin, muscle, liver, stomach and small intestine. Six measurements for each single organ were determined by tension sensors for 60 minutes. We collected tissue specimens to analyse the connective tissue stability by measuring the collagen/protein content.
We identified three phases in the process of suture loosening. The initial rapid loss of the first phase lasts only one minute. It can be regarded as cutting through damage of the tissue. The percentage of lost tension is closely related to the collagen content of the tissue (r = -0.424; p = 0.016). The second phase is characterized by a slower decrease of suture tension, reflecting a tissue specific plastic deformation. Phase 3 is characterized by a plateau representing the remaining structural stability of the tissue. The ratio of remaining tension to initial tension of phase 1 is closely related to the collagen content of the tissue (r = 0.392; p = 0.026).
Knotted non-elastic monofilament sutures rapidly loose tension. The initial phase of high tension may be narrowed by reduction of the surgeons' initial force of the sutures' elasticity to those of the tissue. Further studies have to confirm, whether reduced tissue compression and less local damage permits improved wound healing.
PMCID: PMC3275509  PMID: 22188826
suture tension; cutting reaction; collagen; suture material; polypropylene; tension sensor
13.  Severe gastric variceal haemorrhage due to splenic artery thrombosis and consecutive arterial bypass 
BMC Surgery  2011;11:14.
Upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage is mainly caused by ulcers. Gastric varicosis due to portal hypertension can also be held responsible for upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Portal hypertension causes the development of a collateral circulation from the portal to the caval venous system resulting in development of oesophageal and gastric fundus varices. Those may also be held responsible for upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage.
Case presentation
In this study, we describe the case of a 69-year-old male with recurrent severe upper gastrointestinal bleeding caused by arterial submucosal collaterals due to idiopathic splenic artery thrombosis. The diagnosis was secured using endoscopic duplex ultrasound and angiography. The patient was successfully treated with a laparoscopic splenectomy and complete dissection of the short gastric arteries, resulting in the collapse of the submucosal arteries in the gastric wall. Follow-up gastroscopy was performed on the 12th postoperative week and showed no signs of bleeding and a significant reduction in the arterial blood flow within the gastric wall. Subsequent follow-up after 6 months also showed no further gastrointestinal bleeding as well as subjective good quality of life for the patient.
Submucosal arterial collaterals must be excluded by endosonography via endoscopy in case of recurrent upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Laparoscopic splenectomy provides adequate treatment in preventing any recurrent bleeding, if gastric arterial collaterals are caused by splenic artery thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC3142481  PMID: 21711534
Splenic artery thrombosis; upper gastrointestinal bleeding; laparoscopy; splenectomy; duplex ultra sound

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