Robotic Surgery in Pint-Sized Patients

12:19 PM, Sep 21, 2012   |    comments
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HAYMARKET, Va. (WUSA)-- Sydney Leonard is an active young athlete growing up in Haymarket. But all of a sudden, at the end of last year, playing any sport left the 11 year old in severe pain. 

Sydney's father Mark says,  "When she'd participate in sports, she drank a lot of water to stay hydrated. She'd be getting a lot of back pain after sporting events." 

Sydney describes the pain in her lower back this way:  "It felt like someone just kept banging at it. "

Doctors did an MRI to look for a back injury, but found something else. One of Sydney's kidneys was dilated because of a blockage in the tube that drains into the bladder. When she drank a lot of liquids, that added pressure, and caused the pain. Surgery was the only way to fix it.

Dr. Craig Peters performed the operation at Children's National Medical Center.  He says, "It really requires removing a portion of the drainage system of the kidney, the ureter. Getting rid of the abnormal, re-connecting it, so it drains better."

Dr. Peters is an innovator in the use of the DaVinci robot in surgical procedures on children. Its high tech guidance fine tunes and controls the accuracy of the surgeon's movements with robotic arms and laparascopic tools. That means a delicate procedure like Syndey's could be done through three small incisions, instead of open surgery.  The difference in recovery time is dramatic.

Dr. Peters says,  "Hospital stay is about half, and she required a lot less pain medicine."

Mark Leonard says Sydney "got the robotic surgery done and she spent one night at Children's Hospital, and we were home the next day by 3 o'clock."

And Sydney was back to sports in a couple of weeks, and her kidney has worked perfectly ever since. 

Leonard advises all parents to explore the least invasive surgical options possible.  "If nothing else, your recovery time and your pain are much less. That, to me, I mean... it's a no-brainer. If it's available, that's the way to get it done."















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