Patient Stories

Surgical Specialist R.A. Gamagami, M.D., F.A.C.S. uses advanced techniques to treat esophageal cancer

Dean Smith (left) is cancer free as a result of Dr. R.A. Gamagami (right) remove a tumor from his esophagus with the use of the cutting-edge Firefly technology and da Vinci robotic Surgical System at Silver Cross Hospital.

Esophageal cancer accounts for only 2% of all cancer deaths in the United States, and most often when diagnosed it is in the advanced stages. However, if diagnosed early, the condition is curable with surgery. Fortunately, for New Lenox resident Dean Smith, his esophageal cancer was safely eradicated by using cutting-edge Firefly technology with the da Vinci robotic Surgical System at Silver Cross Hospital.

“I am so grateful to have received such high level care so close to home,” said 59-year-old Smith, who is now cancer free.

For about 7 months, whenever Smith would swallow he felt something in his throat which eventually worsened. After having a scan, Smith went to see Dr. R.A. Gamagami who discovered a cancerous tumor in the early stages in his esophagus. Consequently, Dr. Gamagami performed robotic resection using Firefly technology to remove the entire tumor along with a section of his esophagus and stomach.

“Dr. Gamagami patiently explained my treatment options,” said Smith. “After talking with him, I felt that I was going to be okay because he is so knowledgeable and experienced. I’m so thankful to him and the outstanding nurses and staff at Silver Cross Hospital, who cared for me during my hospital stay. I’m just so appreciative to them and all of my family and friends who supported me during this time.”

Dr. Reza Gamagami demonstrates the innovative Firefly technology used to treat esophageal cancer now available at Silver Cross Hospital.

“Based on the size and location of the tumor, we decided the best way to treat Dean’s cancer was to perform a laparoscopic robotic assisted esophageal resection,” said Dr. Gamagami. “Fortunately for Dean, we can now perform complicated procedures laparoscopically through just a few small incisions using the da Vinci robot and Firefly technology.”

Firefly technology is an integrated fluorescence imaging system that uses near-infrared technology. “This technology allows physicians to identify vessels and anatomical structures with more precision than is possible with the human eye alone,” said Dr. Reza Gamagami, board certified surgeon at Silver Cross Hospital, who is a national leader in advanced robotic minimally invasive procedures using the da Vinci robot for oncologic (cancer) surgery.

How Does Firefly Work?

In bowel surgeries (such as colorectal, stomach and esophageal), Firefly technology allows the surgeon with a special camera and a dye that is injected into the bloodstream during the minimally invasive robotic surgery, to accurately assess the blood flow to the remaining organ for safer operation.

The robotic da Vinci Surgical System is a minimally invasive option for complex surgical procedures offering definitive treatment with the potential for significantly less pain, a shorter hospital stay, faster return to normal daily activities and more importantly reduced complications.

Dr. Gamagami says two major risk factors exist for esophageal cancer which are gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), and Barrett’s esophagus (condition of damage to the esophageal lining following longstanding history of reflux). “Frequent heartburn suffers should have an endoscopy to be sure they are OK,” says Dr. Gamagami. He adds that the problem can be further compounded by alcohol, tobacco, obesity and advancing age.

Silver Cross has been designated as part of an elite group of nationally recognized General Surgery Epicenters due to the demonstrated excellence of R.A. Gamagami, M.D., as an educator for other surgeons in the U.S. in robotic surgery.

Request an Appointment

For more information about esophagus cancer diagnosis and treatment, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. R.A. Gamagami in his office, located on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox, call (815) 717-8730.

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.