MUSC Advanced Endoscopy Update 2011: Dr Ishfaq Ahmed

After attending chaotic DDW sessions in the windy city of Chicago, I arrived in the sunny city of Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Peter Cotton, the founder and former Director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Digestive Disease Centre, kindly arranged lunch for all delegates from the UK. After lunch he showed us the historic town of Charleston and we arrived at the impressive Digestive Disease Centre (DDC) of MUSC.

We were given a guided tour of the facilities. The centre is very impressive with all the latest technology that you could think of in the field of gastroenterology. Surprisingly there was no nurse endoscopist in the DDC, the reason being the presence of many trainee fellows. When I told a senior DDC endoscopy nurse that in our small district general hospital in the UK that we had 2 competent nurse colonoscopists she was very impressed.

The advance endoscopy course was very informal compared to European meetings, chairman Robert Howes was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and announced the delegates should cut their ties at the opening session. The first talk from Evelien Dekker was impressive regarding bowel cancer screening with plenty of praise and admiration regarding the quality, organisation & data presented at DDW from the UK bowel cancer screening programme.

Dr Christopher Williams' lecture regarding challenges in colonoscopy was good. The American audience were obviously not impressed regarding position change during colonoscopy because majority of colonoscopy are done under General anaesthetic in USA, so would be difficult to change position during colonoscopy while patient is anaesthetised.

Also the concept of the scope guide was difficult for the American audience - it's not been utilised in the USA. The poolside course dinner was impressive. Next day an excellent presentation by Dr Nagy Reddy from Hyderabad India, related his experience of providing free charitable mobile clinics and endoscopy services to remote villages, just after a presentation from AGA president about cuts in US health budget, which currently stands at an enormous 2.4 trillion dollars.

The pick of the day was "My last ERCP" by Dr Peter Cotton.  After performing his last ERCP he hung his jersey (lead apron) according to American baseball player traditions. Dr Cotton's retirement speech was very emotional & greeted by the audience with overwhelming applause. Dr. Peter Cotton has written his memoirs under the title “The Tunnel at the End of the Light: My Endoscopic Journey in Six Decades.” It contains photos of many people and places from around the world, the book is both serious and humorous. He gave a personally signed copy of his autobiography to all delegates.  The overall experience & presentation of this meeting were excellent and memorable.