First Malaysian surgeon elected to host international surgical conference


Prof Prepageran presenting a keynote address on 360 degrees endoscopic skull base surgery during the first day of the Congress. — Handout

Unlike the typical selection process to host a medical conference that usually involves academic institutions or professional organisations, the biennial World Congress for Endoscopic Surgery of the Paranasal Sinuses, Skull Base, Brain and Spine focuses on an individual.

Based on their contributions to skull base surgery on a global platform, a surgeon is elected as the president of the next Congress.

The 2024 edition, which was held in the Asia Pacific for the first time, was spearheaded by Universiti Malaya (UM) senior ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant Professor Datuk Dr Prepageran Narayanan.

Also known as EndoKL 2024, the conference gathered 220 ENT specialists, skull base surgeons, neurosurgeons and spine surgeons from around the world to share their expertise and debate on various treatment strategies for the advancement of endoscopic skull base surgeries.

“The skull base is a region under the brain with an intricate network of nerves and blood vessels, making traditional open surgeries prone to higher morbidity (illness).

“Over the last two decades, minimally- invasive endoscopic techniques involving inserting surgical equipment through the nostrils or ear canal, allow complex skull base surgeries to be performed without facial or head incisions, reducing morbidity and improving patient outcomes,” shared Prof Prepageran.

Held in Kuala Lumpur from May 25 to 27, 1,167 participants comprising clinical specialists, master students and junior doctors from 51 countries attended the conference.

Up to half were from Malaysia and the surrounding countries.

Prof Prepageran noted that having the congress here “eliminated logistical hurdles associated with westward travel and provided doctors from this region an opportunity to learn revolutionised treatment approaches presented by renowned surgeons worldwide, spearheading the improvement of skull base surgery standards in the region”.

In addition, the provision of financial assistance enabled 40 delegates from developing countries to present oral papers.

He also observed that the hosting of the conference in Malaysia was a testament to the country’s dedication to achieving international standards in healthcare delivery.

“The accessibility to specialised, cutting-edge technology and comprehensive training programmes in Malaysia positions our country on par with the surgical standards of the United States and Europe.

“This eliminates the need for patients to seek treatment abroad, not only making surgeries more affordable, but also fostering stronger familial and social support networks back at home,” he said.

He added that Malaysia’s fellowship programmes in skull base surgery attract aspiring surgeons from around the world, paving the way for the training of sub- specialists, especially from across South-East Asia.

American consultant neurosurgeon Prof Dr Amin Kassam performs a live dissection on the first day of the Congress.American consultant neurosurgeon Prof Dr Amin Kassam performs a live dissection on the first day of the Congress.

Alongside the main conference, UM’s Faculty of Medicine also hosted a two-day Pre-Congress Advanced Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery Cadaveric Dissection Workshop and a two-day Post-Congress Endoscopic Ear Surgery & Temporal Bone Cadaveric Dissection and Advanced Otology & Lateral Skull Base Workshop.

“These live step-by-step demonstrations offered a hands-on experience of surgical procedures, manoeuvres and instrument use, including how a surgeon stands and positions himself, allowing participants to enhance comprehension and skill acquisition, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice,” said Prof Prepageran.

In addition, conference participants were introduced to Malaysian culture through social activities such as local city tours, batik painting, a local fruit party and visits to the Twin Tower Bridge.

Originally slated for 2020, the conference faced multiple delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Fortunately, with the support from 26 industry partners and collaborative effort between the Malaysian Society of Otorhinolaryngologists - Head and Neck Surgeons, the College of Otorhinolaryngologists, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, and the Neurosurgical Association Malaysia, the congress was successfully organised and exemplified our nation’s commitment to fostering a collaborative healthcare ecosystem.

“The Congress were superbly managed by an organising team led by Prof Dr Tang Ing Ping and Dr Carren Teh, with the support of numerous other surgeons and doctors from both ENT and neurosurgery,” said Prof Prepageran.

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