Only da Vinci Would Do

December 16, 2016
Health News Summer 2016 Story 4 Image

Back flips on a motorcycle are all in a day’s work for Brian Deegan, who has been a top rider in motocross freestyle since he was 17. In May 2005, Brian experienced a horrific crash and required emergency surgery. An injured kidney was removed, his spleen was repaired and his organs were repositioned through an incision running from his chest to his lower abdomen. The experience left him with abdominal scarring and a bowel obstruction.

Even while winning X Games’ gold medals and performing movie stunts, Brian, now 40, struggled with cramping and poor digestion. He could only eat small amounts of food, and was losing weight and muscle. “I consulted with a doctor, but didn’t want to go through open surgery again,” says Brian. He turned to John T. Moon, MD, PhD, who specializes in minimally invasive surgery with the da Vinci® Robotic Surgical System at Rancho Springs Medical Center. Dr. Moon agreed that an alternative was needed.

“In Brian’s case, open surgery was not the right solution,” says Dr. Moon. “Because an open incision is so large, it can set off an inflammatory reaction in the body. If more scar tissue forms, more bowel obstructions could follow.” On the other hand, he says, “The risk for post-operative scarring is minimized with robotic surgery. Small incisions and gentle movements can contribute to less inflammation.”

Surgery was scheduled at Rancho Springs for spring 2015. Dr. Moon says he was shocked at Brian’s condition when he first saw it magnified on da Vinci’s high-definition screen. “About 22 feet of small intestines were intricately tangled and scarred,” he says. Through three small incisions, the da Vinci team, which includes Massimo Arcerito, MD, treated the problem in a four-hour surgery. Recovery was quick due to Brian’s degree of fitness and the precision of robotic technology.

“This surgery was definitely the best way to go. I’m glad I found these doctors and their machine,” says Brian, who was back on his bike about a month after he left the hospital. “I feel good: Now I can focus on racing, my kids and everything else.”

Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if bariatric surgery is right for you.