VINH, Vietnam (NNS) - American and Vietnamese doctors performed a Pacific Partnership medical-first aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) July 14, during Pacific Partnership 2012's (PP12) visit to Vinh, Vietnam.

Navy Urologist Lt. Cmdr. Sean Stoup and Vietnamese Urologist Dr. Bang Ngoe Le performed the innovative single incision laparoscopic case, the first of its kind to be performed during a humanitarian assistance operation, during a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE).

Laparoendoscopic single-site (LESS) surgery is a technically advanced, minimally invasive surgical approach that has been shown to limit postoperative pain and minimize scarring.

Stroup said the surgery was to remove a large symptomatic renal cyst, a fluid collection in the kidney.

"The surgery was performed through a 2.5-cm incision hidden near the bellybutton using a telescopic camera and two long instruments," he said. "Through that one incision, we placed three trocars (used to create the pathways to the cyst) and were able to remove the cyst easily."

Le said this was the first time he has performed an endoscopic surgery.

"I learned a lot of new techniques working with Dr. Stroup," he said. "I hope I will be able to apply these techniques to the cases at my hospital, because this is a surgery technique my hospital plans to use in the near future."

Stroup said the patient, a 72 year-old Vietnamese woman, recovered quickler than normal.

"She recovered beautifully and was discharged home on the first post-operative day," he said. "She didn't experience any pain and only had a small incision around her bellybutton."

Stroup said post-operation care has been made easy by working with Le because the doctor is able to coordinate follow-up care on patients - including this one- in case any problems arise.

"I think it is right in line with the SMEEs during PP12," he said. "It was wonderful sharing ideas and talking about different techniques and operating together.

"I feel fortunate that the Navy has enabled me to gain this additional training and be able to pass it on to our host nation physicians, so they can apply it where they are."

Approximately 125 patients have already been selected for surgeries while Mercy is off the coast of Vinh, with more expected.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.