News from Hannibal Regional Hospital

William (Bill) Halliburton and his doctors had been watching a spot on his lung for a couple of years. This spring, when it was clear the spot had grown and that it was cancerous, Bill and his doctor, Daniel Gwan-Nulla, MD, Thoracic Surgeon at Hannibal Clinic and member of the Hannibal Regional Hospital Medical Staff, were able to take advantage of a new surgical procedure at Hannibal Regional Hospital to remove it, saving Bill from a large incision and shortening his recovery time.

“The spot was the size of a pencil point,” explained Bill. “But this spring, I had a bad sprain in my neck from working on my lawnmower and had to get an X-ray which clearly showed the spot had grown. After some other tests, we were pretty sure it was cancer. After a biopsy, we decided on surgery to remove half my lung.”

Bill explained that he had a family member who had undergone surgery in 1974 for a similar problem, but that surgery required a large incision and involved a difficult recovery. Bill’s surgery was very different. With just a small incision Bill found recovery to be a much easier process.

“You don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Bill said. “But the surgery was fine, the pain was well-controlled. The nurses were very caring and compassionate. You couldn’t ask for it to be any easier.”

This type of surgery previously required an incision of more than four inches and a hospital stay of seven to ten days. This type of surgery, called a lobectomy, is performed when patients have lung cancer, COPD, or other lung diseases, to remove a large part of the lung in order to take out the disease.

“Video assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a minimally-invasive technique that allows access in to the chest through smaller incisions,” said Daniel Gwan-Nulla, MD. “In recent years, this technique has been utilized to perform more advanced surgeries of the chest. It results in less post-operative pain and faster recovery.”

Lori Fohey, BSN, RN, CNOR, Director- Surgery at Hannibal Regional Hospital, explained, “With this new technique, and utilizing the benefits of high definition video, the surgeon is better able to visualize the anatomy. Incisions smaller than one inch prevent the need for spreading of ribs and often the removal of a rib. Smaller incisions mean a shorter hospital stay, less risk of complications, and faster healing.”

“Dr. Gwan-Nulla is great,” said Bill. “He is SO good about telling you everything that is going on and pointing out the x-rays. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.”

For more information contact Daniel Gwan-Nulla, MD at 573-231-3159.
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