Monday, April 20, 2009

Loyola Surgeon Removes Gallbladder Through Belly Button

Loyola surgeon uses minimally invasive procedure to operate inside the abdomen with no traces of a scar

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- When Julie Kopec heard her gallbladder had to be surgically removed, she was more astonished with how it was to be done than that it needed to be done.

"None of my friends had ever heard of using an incision through the belly button to remove a gallbladder. They had the conventional surgery with three and four incisions," said Kopec, a resident of Oak Forest, Ill. "My feelings were, 'It wasn't the most direct route,' but then, what did I know?"

Kopec's surgery was performed by Dr. P. Marco Fisichella, assistant professor of surgery, division of general surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood. He removed Kopec's gallbladder, an organ about the size of a lemon, through a single incision in her belly button that left her with no visible traces of a scar.

"The new frontier in laparoscopic surgery is no-scar surgery." said Fisichella in discussing the minimally invasive procedure that is still relatively rare.

Called single-incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), the procedure Fisichella uses to remove the gallbladder, which is located behind the liver on the right side of the rib cage, is an improved form of laparoscopic surgery, which traditionally requires four incisions to allow room for a camera and various instruments.

"The instruments we use are specially designed for this type of procedure," said Fisichella, who is also director of Loyola's Swallowing Center, a multi-disciplinary specialty clinic that diagnoses and treats disorders of the esophagus. "Surgeons are starting to use this novel technique to do other types of procedures -- surgery on the stomach, surgery on the colon and obesity surgery."

Recovery from a SILS procedure, which on average takes less than an hour to complete, comes with a lower risk of infection because there is only one scar, which is completely hidden in the belly button. For the same reason, the need for pain medication is lessened, and in most cases, patients are able to more quickly resume their normal activities.

"I had it done on a Tuesday and I went shopping on Friday," Kopec said. "I wasn't surprised at how quickly I recovered. The way I was feeling after my surgery I thought I could have been out shopping Wednesday."

Patients who undergo a SILS procedure are usually in and out of the hospital on the same day.

"I was in, in the morning, and out by afternoon," Kopec said.

As the weather warms, a SILS procedure has a cosmetic dimension that gives it an added advantage to patients.

"It's perfect for the long-awaited bikini season," Fisichella said. "It's a patient-driven operation. You can do this surgery conventionally but why would you that when you can achieve the same results with only one incision and the same degree of safety?"

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.