Tara Hennessy - Midland, MI
"It’s nice to realize, wow, I’m gall bladder-free and problem-free. I can eat pistachios again. There’s not even much evidence I had surgery."
Tiny Scar and Fast Recovery from Single-Incision Gallbladder Surgery
For some time, Tara Hennessy had digestive symptoms that she described as annoying. A year or so ago her problems became more serious.
“I just thought that a sensitive stomach was part of life for me,” said the Midland resident. “The recent problems resembled the flu. Every month or two, I would have vomiting and other symptoms that lasted six or eight hours. Something was strange and incorrect.”
When tests ordered by her family nurse practitioner, Joyce Burke, F.N.P.-B.C., revealed a large gallstone, Tara asked for a referral to General Surgeon Melwyn Sequeira, M.D.
Dr. Sequeira had operated on Tara for thyroid cancer two years earlier. This time, she would be able to have an outpatient procedure at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland using the da Vinci® SI Surgical System. Her recovery time would be minimal compared to traditional open gallbladder surgery, and even less than for other minimally invasive surgeries that require four incisions. The single-incision procedure would leave only a tiny scar.
“Dr. Sequeira has a great bedside manner and was comfortable answering my questions,” Tara said. “He told me all about what was going to take place and what I might experience after the procedure. He did my thyroid surgery, which is very intricate, so I had complete faith in him to do the robotic procedure. I have recommended him to lots of people I know.”
After 7 a.m. surgery on a Wednesday, Tara was home by 1 p.m. In about a day she was moving around the house with no problems. Dr. Sequeira encouraged her to walk to help remove the air used to inflate her abdomen. It was all gone in a day or so and she felt normal by the weekend.
“Dr. Sequeira not only removed my gallbladder, he also fixed my herniated bellybutton. Right after surgery and over the following days, I kept wondering where in the world the doctor went in to do the surgery,” she said. “There were just teeny little marks the average person wouldn’t see even if I were wearing a bikini.”
Tara enjoys recreation with the family and likes to work out regularly, so she was glad when, two weeks after surgery, Dr. Sequeira gave her the go-ahead to start getting back to her active life, and to a normal diet.
She always stayed away from fatty, greasy food, but enjoyed pistachios and peanuts, which would bring on her symptoms. “I was a little hesitant to reintroduce them, but I really haven’t had problems with anything,” she said. ”It’s nice to realize, wow, I’m gall bladder free and problem free. I can eat pistachios again, and there’s not even much evidence I had surgery.”
Tara said she’s still amazed that the surgery took place the way it did. “I hate needles and I didn’t like the idea of multiple incisions. The normal four-site surgery made me panic,” she said. “I’m just astonished with the results from da Vinci single-incision surgery. It changed my life for the better.”
®Da Vinci is a registered trademark of Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Currently, MidMichigan is also using da Vinci technology for gynecologic surgery, such as hysterectomy, and urological procedures including prostatectomy. For more information about the da Vinci system and the procedures performed at MidMichigan, visit www.midmichigan.org/davinci.