We have a follow up story on a man from Tea who had a life threatening condition with an enflamed and partially destroyed pancreas. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on the minimally invasive procedures he's had done at Avera McKennan that saved his life and improved his quality of life ten fold.
Harlan Phelps from Tea is just 10 days out from having gallbladder surgery. During his first post-op check up with his surgeon Dr. David Strand he said he's been feeling pretty good. The reason for his quick recovery is because Dr. Strand was able to remove Harlan's gallbladder by only using a single incision laparoscopically.
"The benefit to that is cosmetic. It's one incision buried at the base of the belly button. Once that heals you don't see anything. The other thing there is typically less pain with having one incision instead of four incisions. Post operatively the recovery period is shorter and post op pain is a little better." Dr. Strand with the Surgical Institute of South Dakota said.
Harlan's problem extends beyond his gallbladder, although that was the root of the problem. At the end of 2011 Harlan was in such excruciating pain he went to the ER. Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Steve Condron diagnosed him with acute pancreatitis.
"In a great majority of people who suffer with pancreatitis it's because small stones that are passing down through the bile duct become lodged right next to the pancreas duct. When that happens all the juices that normally are being secreted into the small intestine back up and dissolved the gland, "Dr. Condron with Avera Medical Group Gastroenterology said.
Harlan's condition was so bad; a large amount of fluid started to accumulate around his pancreas and became infected. Harlan was one of the first patients in Sioux Falls to get a pancreatic necrosectomy through a natural orifice. Dr. Condron went down Harlan's throat with a scope to suck out all that excess fluid. He's had that done a handful of times. Avera McKennan is the only hospital in the state to offer this type of procedure.
"It saves a person a big operation and the next day they are out of the hospital," Dr. Strand said.
When Harlan found out he needed his gallbladder out he was hoping Dr. Strand could also do it as non-invasive as possible through a single incision.
"I was happy. You wake up and you wonder what the situation is like, if you are going to be crippled for 2 weeks with scar tissue and that wasn't the case. You can hardly tell. I was amazed what they can do today to get inside you and talk care of your problem." Harlan said.
At least those problems won't include noticeable scars.
Harlan's pancreas is still healing so for now he is taking medication to supplement the functions of what a healthy pancreas does for the body.