The annual event, now one of the major meetings in the annual perioperative calendar in Ireland, is jointly run by the Graduate Entry Medical School (University of Limerick) and the Perioperative Directorate (UL Hospitals Group).  Up to 500 people attended the 25th anniversary symposium, which featured over 300 presentations and research papers from Ireland and overseas.

The meeting, now widely regarded as the “the trainees’ meeting” was generously supported by industry, the IHSTG, ASGBI and the RCSI.  The multidisciplinary nature of the meeting was reflected in a three day-long schedule featuring a hotly contested and controversial debate, numerous named lectures with internationally renowned guests, and hands on practical courses. 

CERC played host on Thursday, March 2nd, where the first Minimal Invasive Surgery Video Session (organised by Mr Subhasis Giri) which was won by Mark Broe, UHL and hands-on courses in vascular surgery (delivered by Mr Tony Moloney and Mr Eamonn Kavanagh), and on robotic surgery (delivered by Mr Colin Peirce) took place. 

Mr Peirce, delivered the Inaugural Lecture on Robotic Surgery on the same day, said UHL was well on the way to establishing itself as a national centre of excellence in this regard.

The symposium switched venue on Friday and Saturday, March 3rd and 4th to the GEMS (Graduate Entry Medical School) Building at the University of Limerick.

Sessions took place on numerous perioperative specialties including breast, gastrointestinal, colorectal, vascular, orthopaedics, ENT, nursing, anaesthetics, critical care, radiology and more.

Several internationally renowned clinicians delivered lectures over the course of the symposium.  Dr Mariana Berho, a pathologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida, delivered the Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland lecture on “The Challenges Facing the Pathologist with Emerging Techniques in Rectal Cancer” on Thursday, 2nd March. And on Friday, the Sylvester O’Halloran Lecture was delivered by one of the world’s foremost colorectal surgeons, Dr Steven Wexner, also of the Cleveland Clinic Florida, who spoke on “The Quest to Improve Outcomes in Rectal Cancer Surgery: Past, Present and Future”.

The meeting culminated with the Sir Thomas Myles Lecture, delivered by Ms Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group.  Ms Cowan spoke on “Overcoming Challenges in Health Service Delivery: the ULHG Approach” and outlined their joint vision for the future of health service provision. 

The Sylvester O’Halloran Debate with Prof Des Winter and Prof Arnold Hill “It is the Robotic Era” took place on Friday, 3rd March with Dr Steven Wexner as the chair.  The topic was contentious and not surprisingly generated heated argument.  The SOH2017 Debate was won by Professor Des Winter (St Vincent’s University Hospital). 

Several national and international awards were presented throughout the course of the meeting.  The now established ASGBI published paper prize was awarded to Helen Mohan from St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.  The title of the winning paper was “Microsatellite instability is associated with reduced disease specific survival in stage III colon cancer.”

Jessie Elliott from St James Hospital Dublin was successful in winning this year’s Sylvester O’Halloran prize for best research presentation in the Plenary Session.  The title of her work was “Pathophysiologic gut hormone and bile acid signalling after oesophagectomy: implications for appetite, postprandial hypoglycaemia and nutritional status in  survivorship.”

Rebecca Weedle, Galway University Hospital won the Sylvester O’Halloran Poster Prize.  The title of her poster was “The use of simple biomarkers to predict complications post cardiac surgery.”

In recognition of the quality of Irish research, the ASGBI will now invite the previous mentioned winners to present their work at the forthcoming Annual Meeting International Surgical Congress to be held in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Glasgow from Wednesday 3rd to Friday 5th May. which represents a significant honour for Irish surgical trainees. 

Professor John Fenton organised and co-chaired a very successful and interactive Head and Neck Session of presented papers.  The co-chair was Mr Peter O’Sullivan from Cork University Hospital. 

Daniel Westby from University Hospital Limerick won the oral prize for work entitled “Incidence of otomycosis in paediatric patients after use of ciprofloxacin.” Aisling Moriarty from University Hospital Kerry won the mini oral prize.  The title was “The moving bog”. Siofia Flannery-McDermott from University Hospital Limerick won the poster prize for work entitled “The opinions of medical professionals on integrity in medical writing; from professor to medical student.”

The orthopaedic sessions provided interesting debates on many of the presentations and posters. The chairs were, Mr Dermot O’Farrell, Mr Lester D’Souza and Mr Tom Burke. The Orthopaedic 1st prize went to Matthew Lee, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Dublin for work entitled “Botulinum-A intramuscular injection in an orthopaedic paediatric patients: service restructure analysis.” The Orthopaedic 2nd prize went to Evelyn Murphy, Galway University Hospital, for work with the title “A prospective evaluation of the efficacy of bone marrow aspirate concentrate injection with microfracture in osteochondral lesions of the talus.” The Orthopaedic Poster prize was won by Patrick Carroll, University Hospital Waterford.  The title was “Shish kebab technique used to treat severe trauma to the foot – a case report.”

The Anaesthesia papers were presented on Saturday and the chair was Prof Dominic Harmon. The prize winners were Daniel Lorigan from University Hospital Limerick who won the O’Shaughnessy Prize, for work entitled “Outcomes in regional vs general anaesthesia in emergency hip fracture,” and David Roche, University Hospital Limerick won the Anaesthesia Poster Prize.  His winning poster was titled “An audit of perioperative anaemia and associated blood transfusion in patients attending the pre-operative assessment clinic at University Hospital Limerick.”

UHL Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine ran an ISRA Foundation course on Friday March 4th as part of the 2017 Sylvester O'Halloran Perioperative Symposium.  ISRA (Irish Society of Regional Anaesthesia) council members on faculty included Dr Patricia Ecimovic & Dr Mark Johnson.  Local faculty members included Professor Dominic Harmon, Dr Joe Lee, Dr Saad Mahdy, Dr Orla Ryan and Dr Catherine Nix.  Short lectures were followed by a number of hands-on sessions with an average of 5-6 learners per group. Both scanning and needling sessions were included.   A link to the lectures delivered will shortly be available on The ultrasound sessions were sponsored by GE and the block needles were provided by B-Braun.  The College of Anaesthesia provided phantoms for needling practice. Additional funding was received from ISRA and MELG.

This year’s meeting also featured a Masterclass in “Robotic Primer for Nurses” organised by Prof Fiona Murphy and Katherine Tierney.  Presenters were Ms Maura Tully, Mr Subhasis Giri, Prof J Calvin Coffey and Ms Suzanne Dunne.  The keynote speaker was Ainna Fawcett-Henesy, International Consultant in Nursing and Health Systems and former regional adviser in Nursing and Midwifery for the World Health organisation – European Region.

Commenting on SOH2017 Professor J Calvin Coffey said “It is wonderful to bring together the Irish Perioperative community, under the heading of one common symposium and one goal – improvement of training and service delivery.  It was wonderful to see the trainees return in force to dominate all aspects of the program.  We were particularly delighted to host Mr Peter Delaney’s family to the meeting.  The Sylvester O Halloran Perioperative Symposium was established in 1992 by Mr Delaney and its enduring success is his legacy to Irish surgery.” 

Work is already underway in planning SOH2018.