Richmond doctor pioneers special laparoscopic surgery

RICHMOND (WWBT) - It turns a complex and serious surgery, into a safe and simple procedure. A groundbreaking new technique is being used in Richmond as a way to handle everything from colon surgery to gallbladder removal.

Before laparoscopic surgery, gallbladder surgery would lead to 4 day hospital stay, a month long recovery and a permanent six inch scar. It is hard to believe that you could improve on something that eliminated all those problems.

But doctors have- and the procedure is happening right now in Richmond.

Robyn Dail vividly remembers when her father went through gallbladder surgery a few decades ago.

"He had extensive scarring all over and I remember his recovery going on for weeks," she recalled.

So it wasn't good news when test revealed the source of a problem she was having.

"It showed that my gall bladder wasn't functioning correctly and it needed to be removed," Dail said.

Robyn was referred to Doctor William Kelley at Henrico Doctors Hospital, who was one of the few surgeons in Richmond pioneering a way to remove a gallbladder that was much different from her father's experience.

"Instead of multiple punctures through the skin of the patient we are doing it all through the navel which is a natural scar," said Doctor Kelley.

Robyn perhaps wasn't expecting a 6 inch scar like her father, but even the most advanced laparoscopic surgeries would leave a patient with 5 or 6 small incision marks. A month later not there is nothing to indicate that her gallbladder was even removed.

"There is no evidence that I even had surgery," she said.

Instead of getting into the body through multiple, small incisions, doctors push all of their tools through the patient's belly button. It eliminates any trace of the surgical experience.

"That has significant cosmetic advantages for the patient," said Doctor Kelley. "It becomes impossible to see the incision for most patients after the operation."

Richmond was the first city in the Mid-Atlantic to conduct the surgeries. Doctor Kelley is now training his colleagues in the area, hoping that more will offer the service to patients in Richmond.

Gallbladder removal is not the only procedure that the navel surgery technique can be used for. It can also help patients in need of colon or intestine removal, as well as many different gynecological issues.

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