Metro hospital among first in Missouri to perform cutting edge life saving surgery


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One metro hospital is performing a cutting edge surgery that’s saving lives. Saint Luke’s Hospital is among the first in Missouri and the only in Kansas City to complete a Robotic Whipple Procedure.

Dr. Lee Cummings performs the a Robotic Whipple Surgery moving robotic arms a few feet away from his patient.

“The sort of more straight forward resectable cases I would do it robotically,” Cummings said.

Since June, he’s completed four. Lougene Marsh was only the second patient in the metro to have this complex procedure done laparoscopically.

“I wanted to do everything possible to minimize the risk of infection,” Marsh said.

Marsh has pancreatic cancer, which, according to the National Cancer Institute is the number three cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

“I have my moments when I, if I allowed myself, I could just dissolve in a puddle of tears,” Marsh said.

She needed the tumor taken out – fast.

Here’s how the Whipple works. The doctor removes the head of the pancreas, some of the small bowel and bowel duct and a little piece of the stomach.

“We take it out and then we put it back together. So, it’s like fancy plumbing,” Cummings said. “We then suture the bowel back to the pancreas, back to the bowel duct and then again to the stomach.”

The procedure’s the same, but now they’re able to do it by only cutting 4-5 centimeters instead of 20-30 centimeters in open surgery.

“Imagine taking out half of the liver through a four and a half, five centimeter incision,” Cummings said. “That’s what we can do with these procedures in robotic assistance fashion.”

The less invasive operation means less pain and faster recover time, which is crucial in Marsh’s case.

“My recovery has been remarkable,” Marsh said.

Within five weeks of having the Robotic Whipple surgery at Saint Luke’s, Marsh is ready to start chemo treatments. Cummings said the sooner the better to save her life, and this surgery offered that timeline.

“I sleep well at night knowing that I am doing what I can to help people,” Cummings said. “These are procedures should not be limited to the big cities and the coast. We should be able to offer the same cutting edge step of care in Kansas City and Missouri in general.”

Marsh is thankful. Following chemo, she hopes to spend her days. traveling again and enjoying family.

“I’m trying to choose the more optimistic, positive road of believing that my continued recovery through the process of chemotherapy will go as well as my surgical recovery,” Marsh said.



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