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March 13, 2014

Urology Chair Lance Hampton takes advanced surgical techniques to Vietnam


Huế, the ancient capital city of Vietnam

In early March, Chair of Urology Lance J. Hampton, M.D., will carry hi-tech expertise to Huế, the ancient former capital city of Vietnam.

It’s his third trip in five years, traveling as part of an organization called International Volunteers in Urology. Based out of Salt Lake City, IVUmed organizes urologists who volunteer to provide medical and surgical education to physicians and nurses and treatment to thousands of children and adults.

Five years ago, Hampton says, “I chose to go to Vietnam because, at the time, I had never been to that part of the world and wanted to see it. It was also a way to involve my urology residents in the trip as there is a urology residency in Huế, Vietnam.”

Hampton holds the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Professorship in Urology. He notes that the endowed professorship supports his efforts to advance the Urology program in multiple ways, including opportunities like this one.


Drs. Lance Hampton (left) and Eric Reid, a urology resident from the University of Oregon outside the operating rooms at Huế University. “Note the short scrub pants and open toed plastic shoes!” Hampton points out.

On this trip and the others before it, he partners with physicians at Huế University. He’ll demonstrate advanced surgical techniques developed in our operating rooms in a region of the world that is severely lacking in modern technology and training.

At the VCU Health System, Hampton is medical director of Robotic Surgery, one of the busiest programs in the Mid-Atlantic region. He’s found the Vietnamese surgeons to be very interested in how he performs laparoscopy and endoscopy procedures, which are uncommon in Vietnam.

In Huế, Hampton’s team typically does four or five major open kidney stone cases each day. “With the expansion of minimally invasive surgery for kidney stones, these procedures are extremely rare in the U.S., but are standard practice in Vietnam,” Hampton explains. “This gives my residents and me the opportunity to perform operations that we rarely see anymore.”


Urology Chair Lance Hampton

His residents have benefitted in other ways as well from this cultural exchange, Hampton said. “It has helped each of them to foster a philanthropic spirit, dedicating themselves to ultimately what draws all of us to medicine – the desire to help others.”

IVUmed provides scholarships to residents who participate, and School of Medicine has also sponsored residents on the trips. On previous visits, Hampton and his team of residents have met up with other urologists in training from Duke, Northwestern and the University of Oregon. This year, a resident from the University of Miami will join them.

Hampton acknowledges that he’s been surprised at how much he enjoys traveling to Vietnam. “I have now spent over a month of my life in Vietnam and I always enjoy it immensely. The people are friendly and welcoming. They love having visitors to their country and sharing with you their culture and their lifestyle.”

In some ways, Hampton can’t help but stand out. “One thing I enjoy about traveling to Southeast Asia is that, even at 5’11”, I’m one of the tallest people in the country. Their scrubs are made for someone 5’6” or so,” says Hampton as he explains a picture of him outside a Vietnamese operating room wearing short scrub pants and open-toed plastic shoes. “The shoes are just what they are used to. They tend to not be very clean and are probably size 8 or less, but having bare feet help keeps you cool in their 85 degree operating rooms. When in Rome…”

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Updated: 04/29/2016