Minimally-invasive lobectomies shortening recovery time

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Being diagnosed with lung cancer is frightening for patients and families. Traditional invasive lung surgery to remove the tumor has long meant that the patient undergoes significant post-operative pain and an extended recovery time. Now, minimally-invasive lobectomies of the lung allow 50 percent of lung cancer patients to go home after one day post-surgery.

Lung cancer survivor Eleanor W. Traylor explained to Ivanhoe, “The diagnosis itself is shocking. You know, it’s terrifying.”

Because she was 82 at the time of diagnosis, her doctor advised against surgery, instead suggesting radiation and chemotherapy.

“I just knew that it would be toxic for me and that I couldn’t survive it,” said Traylor.

But Eleanor’s next-door neighbor, an oncologist at the National Institute of Health knew about a groundbreaking technique at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Eleanor got a second chance.

M. Blair Marshall, MD, Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital stated, “We were able with a video camera approach to take out the tumor, take out the airway, and then transplant the lower lobe and middle lobe back on.”

Dr. Marshall, a practicing surgeon for 20 years, continually seeks more efficient, safer ways to operate using a camera smaller than the thumb, extender tools and a good eye.

“Because I work on camera for pretty much 95% of what I do, I’ve … my brain has adapted to the 2D view. I have to go between the ribs and the nerves are there. The smaller the better because the less trauma to the nerves,” said Dr. Marshall.

Because of this minimally-invasive surgery, Eleanor was able to go home just three days post-op and says it is one of the most …

“Miraculous things to happen to surgery and I just thank God for Dr. Marshall who has perfected this thing,” said Traylor.

Minimally-invasive lung surgery is done without an epidural, which impacts blood pressure, but doesn’t impact the chest and ribs like traditional surgery. Dr. Marshall uses nerve blocks for the pain. For more see the related links section of this story.



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