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June 26, 2018

A candid interview with Dr. Sampath Rodrigo VOG at Browns Hospital Ragama

Browns Hospitals

Dr. Sampath Rodrigo – MBBS MS MSLCOG

Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Q: In your own words, please describe the role of a VOG

A: Firstly VOG stands for Visiting Obstetrician & Gynecologist. The role of a VOG, simply put in layman’s language, is a medical personnel that looks after pregnant mothers, are involved in delivering babies and take care of all gynaecological issues. In other words medical conditions and concerns related to the female reproductive system, before and after pregnancy is the specialty of physicians in this category.

Q: Could you explain the female body on a gynaecological perspective?

A: Genetically, the female body is meant for reproduction. This begins from the time a girl reaches puberty.

An interesting fact is that, about 30,000 years ago, when the females first emerged from the jungles into the civilized world, the maximum life span was 30 years. Therefore they died before any of the female sicknesses could be discovered.

In this generation, humans live for much longer than 30 years. Thus it’s more complicated, people are more prone to various illness and ailments. Females however face a larger pool of medical issues mainly with regards to their reproductive system and organs.

Q: What are your thoughts on the ever rising risks of cancer?

A: Medical practitioners are being faced with an increase in female patients diagnosed with cancer; breast cancer, cervical cancer, etc. and as well as complications in their genital organs.

Lifestyle choices have changed drastically. Females are more independent and most of them tend to be the breadwinners of their families, burdened with more responsibilities, and various other reasons. Also women of today are more enterprise oriented and thus have put marriage on hold for a while.

Whilst early marriage cannot be expected in this generation, the delay in pregnancy has its adverse effects in the female reproductive system. A very common diagnosis is Endometriosis. It is a condition resulting in the development of uterine-lining tissue outside the uterus, causing pelvic pain, heavy periods and infertility. A diagnosis that goes untreated for a long time can result in having to undergo surgery.

Q: Are Sexually transmitted diseases common among your female patients?

A: The generation of today both males and females, with liberal lifestyle choices, changes and independence, are more open to unprotected sex. This especially affects females. Unprotected sex with multiple partners leads to Pelvic Inflammatory disease; which is another common disease that doctors diagnose. We have had several cases seeking medical attention and advice.

These are the type of issues we VOGs deal with on a daily basis.

Q: What does being an Obstetrician involve?

A: An Obstetrician deals with the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the healing period following delivery.

Due to less and less women opting to have children, delayed pregnancies and due to the unaffordability to have more than one or two children in a family, every baby is considered precious and every pregnancy is treated as a high risk pregnancy.

Obstetricians are more in demand due to this very reason. The involvement of an Obstetrician is more critical than ever; one has to be closely involved from inception of pregnancy.

The advancement of technology in this field has been of immense value and advantage. Doctors are able to assist expecting parents with detailed diagnosis of the fetus and the advancement of the baby in the womb. The 4d scans available now projects clear images of the baby’s features, body parts etc. The innovation is such that the scan could even detect any minute defect that could threaten the life of the baby and the mother.

Unlike overseas, abortions are still illegal in Sri Lanka. Therefore in cases where a baby is diagnosed with a serious illness or defect whilst still in the womb, abortion is a decision that cannot be taken lightly or as easily. But with a Doctor’s recommendation and the parents’ justified consent an abortion can be performed on special cases. I would like to stress that in all similar cases we work under a strict legal framework.

Q: What is Laparoscopic surgery and why is it better than conventional surgery?

A: Laparoscopy is a very intriguing and interesting field.

It is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through an incision in the abdomen to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs. Laparoscopy is used to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids, and infection. Tissue samples can be taken for biopsy through the tube as well.

This type of surgery is very popular and affordable overseas. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, it is not so. A Laparoscopic surgery costs 50 to 100 percent more than a normal surgery. Especially in females this type of surgery would be more appropriate than traditional surgery where the patient would end up with a big ugly scar for life.

Any type of surgery can be performed via laparoscopy. We have performed several here at Browns Hospital. A value add to these surgeries that we offer is the unedited recording of the live surgery on either a cd or pen drive. This is an effective tool in gaining patients confidence and trust in the system and also a reassurance as to the success of the surgery.

Laparoscopy is an evolving field. There are new developments every day. My personal wish is that Sri Lanka would provide patients with comprehensive insurance schemes or a viable method that would enable patients to opt for laparoscopic surgeries.

Q: Tell us about your personal interests and passion.

A: As an obstetrician my special interest is in Laparoscopic surgery. In fact I personally would like to be referred to as a specialist in laparoscopic surgery or be titled as a Laparoscopic Surgeon.

This in no way does it mean that I don’t love what I am doing right now. I love what I do right now; being an obstetrician and gynecologist. Only difference is that my innate passion is in Laparoscopy and I want to enhance and build my knowledge and skills on Laparoscopic surgery.

The only downfall in promoting or excelling in this type of surgery is the affordability. I sincerely hope in my personal capacity that I could influence on a scheme with reputed insurance companies in providing customers with a viable access to this service.

As obstetricians, this is our wish and dream; to provide patients better solutions to gynecological surgeries.

Apart from professional duties I make it my prerogative to provide my patients with sound health advice. I am a self-taught nutritionist and I freely share my knowledge when necessary with my patients. I believe that in order to be a good Doctor, one also has to be selfless and give back something more than what is expected of you.

I make it a point to listen to my patients and provide solutions that are best for my patient rather than what is convenient to me. It is every patient’s right to have equal attention of their Doctors. It is the patient’s right to have access to a Doctor who listens to them, empathises with them and provides them the best health solution.