SA doctor develops new bladder cancer surgery

Small robot surgery prevents sign­ificant blood loss

SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio doctor is performing an innovative surgery that could dramatically change the lives of men and women with bladder cancer.

It was during a routine visit that Roger Williams' doctor found blood in his urine.

Williams was immediately sent to a urologist, where the bad news got worse. The urologist found 14 tumors and told Williams he would need to take drastic measures.

"He said, 'I think your bladder may need to come out,'" Williams said.

Initially Williams was against the idea, but then the 67-year-old was presented with a new option: a surgical technique that uses a robot to first remove his bladder and lymph nodes, then reconstruct the part of the kidney involved in drainage using a part of the small intestine.

Dr. Robert Svatek performed the surgery, guiding the robot with a television and joysticks much like a video game.

Dr. Grant Evans was among several physicians who sat in and explained how it works.

"The instruments you can see on the monitor are hugely magnified," Evans said.

He said the procedure isn't just less invasive, it utilizes a smaller incision, which cuts down on healing time and is safer.

"There's significantly less blood loss associated with robotic surgery," Evans said.

And when it's over and Williams has recovered, it means a fuller more active life for this husband and grandfather.

For a list of recent stories Jennifer Dodd has done, click here.


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