Laura Ryan – da Vinci Single-Site Gallbladder Surgery Success Story

One small incision with da Vinci surgery means less pain, faster recovery, more time for what matters

Laura RyanIt wasn’t the alarm that woke Laura Ryan at 3 a.m.; it was severe abdominal pain. The uncomfortable feeling worsened, accompanied by nausea and shoulder pain. As a physician assistant, she knew the symptoms meant gallbladder problems and a visit to the emergency department.

Ryan called a friend to drive her to Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Her first test was an ultrasound, but she was surprised when it didn’t show gallstones. She was admitted for observation and an advanced hepatobiliary scan, which identified that her gallbladder wasn’t functioning. This condition required an emergency cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal.

For all her time spent in a medical profession, Ryan herself had never had major surgery.

“It’s tough to be a medical provider and a patient,” she says. “But I felt at ease with my surgeon, Dr. Mejia, and glad that he had the technology on hand to support his skills.”

Skill on her side

Laura Ryan with friends Laura Ryan (center) didn't need to miss
much time having fun with friends, thanks
to minimally invasive Single-Site
gallbladder removal at Methodist Dallas.

For gallbladder removal specifically, Ryan’s surgeon at Methodist Dallas, Alejandro Mejia, MD, FACS, chose to perform one of the latest techniques in minimally invasive surgery: Single-Site™. Assisted by the robotic da Vinci® Surgical System, Dr. Mejia was able to remove Ryan’s gallbladder via only one small incision hidden in the natural contours of the belly button, compared to traditional laparoscopy’s multiple incisions.

“Surgeons like Single-Site,” Dr. Mejia says. “It offers less pain and, with one incision site, reduces risk of infection.

“The robot’s enhanced imaging capabilities also provide better viewing, making it safer for the patient.”

Laura Ryan smilingFaster recovery was important

Ryan’s symptoms were gone after surgery. She went home the next morning with little pain. While her condition was an emergency situation, for someone deciding whether to have gallbladder surgery or not, she encourages them to consider Single-Site.

“You forget that you use abdominal muscles in everything you do until you have abdominal surgery, so it was better for me to have only one incision rather than multiple,” she says. “I was slightly sore for a week but didn’t need pain pills.”

Ryan was in the process of getting ready to take her board recertification exam when she got sick. She worried about lost study time and was relieved that the Single-Site procedure quickly got her back to the books.

From the spring 2014 edition of Shine magazine.