Tiny incision makes for a big success

At 72 years of age, Smyrna resident Leroy Bryan is young at heart. With a hearty laugh and a smile that can brighten up any room, Bryan isn’t one to let anything hold him back, including his health. On any given day, Bryan can be seen walking around his neighborhood, biking, going to the gym, or driving around Delaware seeing all the places he has yet to experience since moving to the state three years ago. This is why when a lump was found near his heart, it was important to Bryan to get back in tip-top shape.

Enter Bayhealth thoracic surgeon Paul Fedalen, MD. Bryan was referred to Dr. Fedalen when a mass was located in Bryan’s thymus, a small organ that lies in the upper chest under the breastbone. “The thymus typically disappears as a person ages but with Leroy, his thymus was a significant size, which was a cause of concern,” said Dr. Fedalen. After meeting with Dr. Fedalen, it was determined Bryan would need surgery; luckily for him, Dr. Fedalen could perform a procedure that would hopefully have him back on his feet in no time.

The procedure that is most often used to remove such a mass is called a sternotomy, which results in the patient’s chest being cracked; patients can experience a great deal of pain and a difficult recovery with this procedure. For Bryan, Dr. Fedalen was able to instead perform a minimally invasive robotic surgery using the da Vinci Robotic Surgery System.

For the procedure, Bryan’s right arm was pulled to the side so three small holes could be put on the side of his chest. From there a five millimeter camera helped Dr. Fedalen see so he could dissect the mass and remove it entirely. The mass was benign. “The tumor was found in the early stages and Leroy is now cancer-free,” Dr. Fedalen said.

Bryan spent just a few days in the hospital recovering. Now he boasts about the procedure to pretty much anyone who will listen. “Bayhealth is moving forward. The technology to perform these surgeries is right here in our backyard and people need to know,” Bryan said. “I don’t like to just lay back. I always want to keep moving. Thanks to Dr. Fedalen, I can keep doing what I’ve always done.”

For Dr. Fedalen, Bryan’s success stays with him as a reminder of why he’s a surgeon. “In one word, I would describe Leroy’s results as awesome. This is why I was driven to do the robotics training,” Dr. Fedalen said. “He has a way about him. He was so thankful and pleased with the outcome of the surgery.”

Visit bayhealth.org/cardiovascular for more information. To find a Bayhealth physician to fit your needs in your area, contact 1-866-Bay-Docs.

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