A team of four consultants from St George’s spent one week in Vietnam last month to lead the first targeted mission to treat children and young adults with a range of orthognathic conditions.

The mission was carried out with the charity Facing the World which helps to treat children in developing countries who have severe craniofacial defects by training local surgical teams, providing multidisciplinary surgical treatment, and donating necessary equipment.

The St George’s team included Lucy Davenport-Jones, Consultant Orthodontist; Anne Blyth, Consultant Anaesthetist; Mehmet Manisali and Jahrad Haq, Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Lucy said: “It’s unusual for an established team to be able to go on a charity mission. It made the mission much more efficient, as we already knew how they would approach the planning of complex cases and allowed us to focus on the task at hand.”

The team assessed a total of 66 patients on their first day and went on to plan treatment for 15 patients who they would later operate on alongside the Vietnamese teams in two hospitals: Hong Ngoc Hospital and Viet Duc University Hospital.

Jahrad said: “When we arrived and saw the clinic room full of patients, it was quite surreal. It was the biggest clinic I’ve seen and all the patients had complex conditions and required treatment.

“We’d been planning this mission for roughly a year though and have had constant communication with the Vietnamese teams, so we knew what to expect. I think that’s what made this mission such a success.”

The operations treated complex cases of patients with severe facial deformity, such as cleft lip and palate, hemi-facial macrosomia, traumatic injuries to the face, malposition of the jaw and salivary gland tumours.

Anne said: “What I was really struck by was how efficient everything was from the IT for patient notes to the quick turnaround time between patients’ surgeries to maximise time each day.”

As well as treating patients, time was spent both lecturing and teaching the Vietnamese teams to implement the approach to joint care that is already established in the UK. Targeted lectures were also delivered on topics such as orthognathic surgery, rhinoplasty and the treatment of orbital trauma.

Mehmet said: “What’s great about this mission is that we haven’t just gone there, done the work and come back and that’s it. We spent a long time working together in the lead up and we’ll continue checking in on the patients we treated too – it’s a much bigger programme of work which is really interesting.”

Anne said: “Everyone we worked with was great and the resources and techniques they used were fascinating – it was as much them sharing their practice with us as it was us sharing practice with them, which made for a really successful mission for patients.”