Dragomir Dardanov reports on his fellowship in Korea where he participated in the International Colorectal Research Summit and observed surgical practice in the main Seoul hospitals, including one of the biggest hospitals in the world.

International Colorectal Research Summit ICRS 2019It was a great privilege to be awarded with the 2019 KSCP Traveling Fellowship. The fellowship was organised in an excellent way, I would like to thank both the ESCP and KSCP Secretariats.

The first part of the fellowship was to actively participate in the International Colorectal Research Summit (ICRS) 2019 at Sejong University, Seoul from 6-8 September 2019. The conference was inspiring and full of interesting presentations. The discussions were not less fascinating and practice oriented.

ICRS Speakers with DragomirAmong the main topics of ICRS were treatment strategies for rectal cancer - from total neoadjuvant therapy to surgery. The lectures of international faculty - J. Shin from USA, G. Chen from China N. James from Singapore and P. Lee from Australia together with Yoon Suk Lee from Korea made fruitful discussions, facilitated by eminent moderators - L. Bokey from Australia and Hee Cheol Kim from Korea.

There were sessions on emerging new techniques on taTME and IBD symposium, where W. Bemelman from The Netherlands was invited speaker. JSCP/KSCP joint symposiums attracted attention on anastomotic leaks after resection for rectal cancer and on rectal prolapse. The Lithuania-Korea Joint Symposium moderated by N. Samalavicius and W. Y. Lee covered broad spectrum of topics - from robotic surgery to functional results after surgery. Here I made my presentation on surgical anatomy of pelvic fasciae and nerves.

Dragomir Dardanov presenting at ICRS

Proctology topics included recent advances in management of fecal incontinence, where perspectives from Korea, Japan and Hong Kong were presented. Lectures on sphincter saving operations and MRI for anal fistula, different approaches to haemorrhoidal disease and surgical vs. nonsurgical treatment of anal fissure attracted significant participants.

ICRS Speakers DinnerUpdates on hereditary and advanced colorectal cancer were topics of different symposiums, where experts from Korea, Japan and France discussed hot topics in the fields.

Besides oral presentations, 45 electronic posters were presented during the conference. High quality of research is noticed, when browsing the posters.

The invited faculty and gala dinner were places for close contact and exchanges of ideas.

The second part of my fellowship was visiting of some of main Seoul hospitals. On the first day I was in Severance Hospital. Dr Jae Hyun Kang was a very kind guide during my visit. I had the opportunity to visit their training centre and observe the robotic and laparoscopic surgeries, performed by Professor Nam Kyu Kim. We had fruitful discussions about anatomical landmarks in rectal surgery. Moreover, I was invited by Professor Kim to participate and give a talk on tumour specific mesorectal excision in 'Standard Surgical Treatment of Colorectal Cancer Workshop: Updates focused on surgical anatomy' on 9 November 2019.

Severance Hospital Yonsel Cancer Centre

On the second day I visited Seoul National University Hospital, where Professor Kyu Joo Park demonstrated operations in advanced colorectal and intraabdominal cancer and we both agreed that in patients with recurrent or advanced cancer proper open surgery is required. Also, I observed another team performing laparoscopic surgery with 3D visualisation.

On morning of the third day I visited Asan Medical Center - one of the biggest hospitals in the world. Dr Young Il Kim showed me the wards and operating theatres. I observed laparoscopic low anterior resection performed by Professor Seok-Byung Lim and robotic rectal resection by Professor Jin Cheon Kim.

Seou National University Hospital

Samsung Medical Cancer CenterIn the afternoon on the 3rd day I was in Samsung Medical Cancer Center, where Dr Sung Chul Lee showed me the modern facilities of the hospital and together we observed laparoscopic low anterior resection, performed by Professor Yong Beom Cho and laparoscopic right hemicolectomy byProfessor Hee Cheol Kim.

During my hospital visits I was impressed by professionalism and patient dedicated Korean surgeons. Their passion for research and science-based surgery is remarkable. All were very kind with me. As president of Bulgarian Society of Coloproctology we have established contacts for future cooperation between Bulgarian and Korean colorectal surgeons. Also, we had planned joint Bulgarian-Korean Colorectal Symposium to be held in Sofia during the spring of 2020.
I am very grateful to ESCP Educational committee and KSCP for this fellowship. It not only extended my coloproctology horizons, but with contacts and friendship I made it is of benefit for more close cooperation between European and Korean coloproctology societies. The week in Korea was unforgettable for me.

Dragomir Dardanov, MD, PhD, FEBS/EBSQ Coloproctology & Surgical Oncology
Senior Assistant Professor, University Hospital Alexandrovska, Sofia Medical University, Bulgaria