Routine Colonoscopy Finds Cancer, Robotic Surgery Speeds Recovery

John McEvoy tries to stay in shape. He walks three miles a day and gets regular physicals and health screenings. So when the 62-year-old Mokena man underwent a routine colonoscopy at nearby Silver Cross Hospital in December, he was surprised when doctors found a cancerous tumor in his colon. Fortunately, they caught it early and removed the tumor with robotic surgery techniques allowing John a faster recovery.

John had none of the usual colorectal cancer symptoms such as rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort or a history of polyps. However, subsequent testing showed he had a low blood count which required additional treatments to boost his red blood cells.

His primary physician referred John to Dr. R. A. Gamagami who specializes in advanced minimally invasive colorectal procedures using a surgical robot. Surgeons from across the United States come to Silver Cross to observe robotic surgery and techniques from Dr. Gamagami. Silver Cross has the largest robotic surgical program in the Chicago metropolitan area and performs more colorectal cases robotically than any other hospital or surgery center in the area.

Removing the Tumor with Tiny Incisions and More Precision

On Jan. 28, 2016, Dr. Gamagami performed a laparoscopic robotic right colon resection to remove John’s tumor. Through the robotic console in one of Silver Cross’ operating rooms, Dr. Gamagami controlled the robot to make a few small incisions in John’s abdomen and colon. The robotic technology translated Dr. Gamagami’s hand movements into smaller, intricate movements through tiny instruments inside John’s body.

“The robotic instruments bend and rotate far greater than the human hand,” said Dr. Gamagami. “This allowed me to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue from the right side of John’s colon and reconnect the two ends of the colon with more precision and control than if I had used laparoscopic techniques alone.”

Robotic surgery allows patients to benefit from minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, and a shorter hospital stay with reduced complications.

“Having surgery performed this way was a major relief,” John said. “I consider myself an active guy and was concerned about a lengthy recovery after surgery,” John said. “Dr. Gamagami explained every detail of the procedure to me, which helped relieve my anxiety.”

Just hours after surgery, John was out of bed and walking with minimal assistance. The next day he went home and could walk on his own.

“The nurses at Silver Cross are amazing. They really helped me with my recovery,” John added. “Their cheerful spirit was just what I needed.”

John is convinced that his speedy recovery was due, in large part, to Dr. Gamagami’s advanced techniques. “I would recommend him in a heartbeat for any procedure,” he added.

Although, Dr. Gamagami was able to remove John’s entire tumor, the results of the biopsy showed that three lymph nodes tested positive for cancer. To improve the chances that all the cancerous cells are destroyed, John is currently undergoing a chemotherapy regimen at The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital.

“I am so lucky to be able to get the best care close to home,” John said.

Colonoscopy Crusader

Just one week after surgery, John attended his local Lions Club meeting where he talked about his recent experience with his fellow members.

“After the meeting, a few of the members came up and said that they would be scheduling a colonoscopy. Other friends of mine have also talked about scheduling the procedure,” said John. “If I can encourage just one person to get tested, it’s worth sharing my story.”

John also posted his story on his company’s blog to encourage co-workers to be proactive and get a colonoscopy beginning at age 50 or as recommended by their doctor.

Learn More

To learn more about colon cancer prevention, robotic surgery or for a referral to a physician who performs colonoscopies at Silver Cross Hospital, click here

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To request an appointment, call (815) 300-1400.

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.