Lung Cancer Patient to Play St. Andrews Course | Loyola Medicine
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lung Cancer Patient to Play World-famous St. Andrews Golf Course after Robotic Surgery

MAYWOOD, IL – Avid golfer Frank Trombetta was looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play St. Andrews Links in Scotland, home to one of the oldest and most iconic golf courses in the world.

Then he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The early-stage cancer was treatable, but a surgeon told Mr. Trombetta it would take three months to recover from surgery, and he would have to cancel his trip.

So Mr. Trombetta came to Loyola University Medical Center thoracic surgeon Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, for a second opinion in February. Dr. Vigneswaran, division director of thoracic surgery, specializes in lung cancer and other diseases of the lungs. Dr. Vigneswaran offered to perform a less-invasive procedure that would enable Mr. Trombetta to recover in time to make the trip in late April.

Image removed by sender.Using the robotic da Vinci® Surgical System, Dr. Vigneswaran removed the lower third of Mr. Trombetta’s right lung. Mr. Trombetta spent three days in the hospital, and was back on the driving range after just five weeks.

By comparison, conventional open surgery would have required seven to 10 days in the hospital and 10 weeks recovering before Mr. Trombetta could even swing a golf club.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Mr. Trombetta, of Oak Brook, Illinois, who turns 74 in April. “My recovery has been phenomenal. It’s been way better than my expectations.”

The robotic system allows a surgeon to operate through a few small incisions. Operating from a workstation, the surgeon views a magnified, 3D, high-definition image of the surgical site. Movements by the surgeon's hand or wrist are translated into highly precise movements of surgical instruments. The surgeon is completely in charge, and the robot makes no decisions on its own.

Dr. Vigneswaran performs most of his surgeries with minimally invasive techniques, including da Vinci robotic surgery and video-assisted thoracic surgery. These methods generally result in smaller scars, less pain, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries.

In Mr. Trombetta’s surgery, Dr. Vigneswaran used the robotic system to make four small incisions. Two incisions were five millimeters (about one-fourth inch) wide and two incisions were 2.5 centimeters (one inch) wide. By comparison, conventional open surgery to remove a lung tumor requires an incision 10 to 15 centimeters long, Dr. Vigneswaran said.

Mr. Trombetta, has been playing golf for 45 years. During the season, he plays four days a week, and he has a handicap of 14. “For me, golf is a way of life,” he said.

Mr. Trombetta is among 16 members of the Beverly Country Club in Chicago who will travel to Scotland April 23 for a week of golf. They will play a friendly competition with 16 members of the Butterfield Country Club in Oak Brook.

The highlight will be on April 27, when Mr. Trombetta will play the Old Course at St. Andrews, known as the home of golf. Golfers, from duffers to champions, have been playing there for 600 years. It’s a frequent site of the British Open.

The seaside course has no trees or hills, but plenty of sand traps and a famous 700-year-old stone bridge. “All the great players who have every lived have played there,” Mr. Trombetta said. “If I could play one golf course on the planet, it would be St. Andrews.”

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.