An Unknown Threat: Read Donna's Story
66–year-old Mercerville resident, had no idea she was living with only one working
a routine physical, Donna was surprised to learn that her urine test had come
back abnormal. A trip to the urologist revealed a blockage of her ureter, the drainage tube from the kidney to the
“The doctor explained that I was living
with one kidney. We didn’t know for how long, and he recommended surgery,” Donna
“It was my
first surgery ever. I was scared to death.”
first placed a stent, and then recommended
a pyeloplasty to correct the blockage. She consulted with urology experts about
state-of-the-art technologies available to effectively treat her condition.
Basics on the Blockage
condition, known as ureteropelvic
junction (UPJ) obstruction, is often congenital but sometimes acquired. The
obstruction occurs where the ureter meets the collection system to the kidney.
Patients often complain of back pain, or experience frequent kidney infections
or kidney stones. As in Donna’s case, there may be no symptoms present at all.
kidney function needed to be saved, and board certified urologist John Watson,
MD, had just the tool to do it.
Robotics to the Rescue
The da Vinci Robot Surgical System offers a minimally invasive way to fix
a blocked or narrowed ureter. Using robotic technology with 3-D image visualization,
this laparoscopic pyeloplasty
technique uses three to four small, dime-sized incisions to reach the area of
“Using the da Vinci
laparoscopic tool, we look inside the abdomen—which is inflated with gas so we
have room to work—we expose the kidneys, find the obstruction and remove that
narrowed area that’s causing the problem,” explains Dr. Watson.
“We then sew things back together so that
narrowed area is gone and there’s a wide open channel from the kidney to the
the laparoscopic method was
available, a traditional open surgery pyeloplasty required long recovery times
up to six to eight weeks. This is due to the surgery’s invasive nature and the
amount of nerves and muscular tissue along the flank area, according to Dr.
seeing a remarkable reduction in pain and quicker recovery, which is much
easier to manage for the patient,” Dr. Watson reports.
results in less blood loss, pain, and scarring, as well as shorter hospital
stays and lower risk of complication and infection for the patient.
“I couldn’t pick
up the grandkids for a little while, but I don’t remember it being a long time
at all,” reports Donna. “Within about two weeks I was pretty well back to
studies showed a pretty significant obstruction,” Dr. Watson recalls. “After
the procedure we repeated the studies, and it was wide open.”
Team Approach to Care
The da Vinci robot
is demonstrating improved clinical outcomes for UPJ obstruction, as seen with
Donna, who is comfortably enjoying trips to the casino, lunches with friends,
and time at home with her husband,
daughter, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and dogs—all under one roof!
grateful for the comprehensive care she received throughout this process.
“I’m terrified of needles so going into the
hospital and surgery was scary for me,” she says. “There was so much courtesy
from everyone that touched me. No one made me feel rushed, or that I should be
all patients to maintain good health practices by receiving regular physicals
“I’m so grateful
something like this could be caught, so it didn’t cause bigger problems later,”