If John Benz's belly aches had occurred a dozen years ago, the 67-year-old Naperville man may have faced a more difficult choice about his treatment. His pain was a result of diverticulitis, an inflammation in the tiny pouches, called diverticula, which develop in the colons of most people over 60. HERE'S HIS STORY >
|Pictured Above: John Benz, 67, after
minimally invasive laparoscopic
surgery for diverticulitis.
At one time, patients tended to postpone elective surgery for this ailment because it involved a stay in the hospital of as much as eight days and then six to eight weeks away from work. Today, many people having colon resection surgery for diverticulitis stay in the hospital only four days, and return to normal activity in about a month. They also experience less pain.
Why the difference? Many surgery recoveries are now on the fast track thanks to the advent in the late '90s of minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, surgical techniques, and refinements to equipment and techniques that followed.
Benz had had two painful flare-ups that landed him in the hospital, most recently in February. Tests confirmed it was diverticulitis (read about it in our health library, and John was put on intravenous antibiotics.
According to Benz's surgeon, Gregory Grant, MD, chairman of the Edward Hospital Department of Surgery and member of DuPage Surgical Consultants, "Once the diverticulitis gets this bad, you risk rupture. This usually means open surgery, rather than laparoscopic, and a colostomy bag."
| Gregory Grant, MD
DuPage Surgical Consultants,
Chairman, Edward Hospital
Department of Surgery
Benz agreed to have the laparoscopic surgery in April, after he got back from his already-planned vacation to Florida. He was up and walking the same day as the operation, and after a month he was able to resume golf and his other favorite activities, minus worry about another bout of pain.
In addition to less pain and quicker recovery, patients with colon ailments who undergo laparoscopic surgery enjoy the following advantages over those having traditional surgery:
- Quicker return to their regular foods.
- Less bleeding.
- Less exposure to the air, meaning less risk of infection.
- Much smaller scars, located where they won't be easily seen.
In contrast to the large abdominal incision made in traditional surgery for diverticulitis, Dr. Grant was able to use only four small incisions for Benz's operation. Inserted into these openings were small tubes, called trocars, through which the tiny surgical instruments were introduced into the body.
First, a tiny camera, inserted through a half-inch incision, pinpointed the diseased area and projected the image onto a computer monitor. Then Dr. Grant cut out the colon's diseased portion and removed it through one of the openings. The healthy portions of the colon were reattached, the incisions closed, and the surgery was over in less than two hours.
"At Edward Hospital we're blessed to have the latest laparoscopic equipment, as well as new state-of-the-art laparoscopic surgical suites," says Dr. Grant. "And the industry has come up with increasingly sophisticated equipment, such as high definition scopes and better stapling devices for cutting and reattaching. All this has really helped to streamline this surgery and make it less taxing on the patient."
To find an independent surgeon on the Edward Hospital Medical Staff, visit www.edward.org/findadoc