Scarless Gallbladder Surgery
On February 4, 2009, Kerri Steffan became the first patient at Progress West to have her gallbladder removed through one tiny incision, during an innovative, one-port laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed by Carson Agee, MD, general surgeon.
Gallbladder problems are usually caused by gallstones, which are small, hard masses of cholesterol and bile salts that form in the gallbladder or bile duct. A gallstone will slow or block the flow of bile, causing the gallbladder to swell. Symptoms include abdominal pain, indigestion, fullness or gas, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.
It is uncertain why some people develop gallstones, and there is no known way to prevent them. About 10 percent of people have gallbladder disease without stones, says Dr. Agee. Steffan was one of them.
As the regional vice president of operations for eight skilled nursing facilities, Steffan has a busy life. "I was belching nonstop, and it was making me miserable."
Steffan's primary care physician Susan Reeds, MD, referred her to Dr. Agee. Her gallbladder was functioning at only 12 percent efficiency.
Surgery, called cholecystectomy, is the primary treatment for gallbladder disease.
An open cholecystectomy requires a five- to-eight-inch-long incision in the abdomen. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed through four small incisions. A thin tube called a laparoscope is placed into the body through a tiny cut just below the naval. The surgeon can see the gallbladder on a television screen and perform surgery with tools inserted in three other small cuts made in the right upper part of the abdomen.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy results in less pain and a quicker recovery. The one-port cholecystectomy offers all the advantages of laparoscopic surgery, plus cosmetic benefits.
"One-port cholescystectomy is performed through one small incision in the naval," says Dr. Agee. "It does not leave a visible scar. The procedure is performed with the utmost safety."
Not everyone is a good candidate, for the one-port cholcystectomy. Steffan was a good candidate because she's thin and her gallbladder was not overly inflamed.
Dr. Agee is the only surgeon in St. Charles County currently performing the one-port procedure.
After less than an hour in the operating room, Dr. Agee removed Steffan's gallbladder through one small incision. She went home a couple hours later. "I took it easy for a few days, but I was back to work on Monday," says Steffan. "I did not have a lot of pain, and I cannot see a scar. I was very pleasantly surprised."