Esophageal cancer: New surgical innovations stop risky side effects
NEW YORK, N.Y. (WGEM) – Esophageal cancer is cancer of the long tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. Traditionally, the treatment involves surgery but afterwards, there is a risk of the esophagus leaking, which could cause dangerous, even potentially fatal infections. Now, surgeons at Mount Sinai in New York have pioneered a modification that significantly cuts the risk.
Lou Martinez collects coins, clocks, and other knick knacks. He loves things that have a long history. But in 2018, Martinez’s health took a turn – he was working nights and had a sudden, serious scare.
“I couldn’t swallow my food. I couldn’t swallow water, juice, nothing. Everything laid right there, and I panicked,” Martinez painfully recalls.
After years of struggling with heartburn, doctors diagnosed Martinez with esophageal cancer.
Patients can have complications at the site where surgeons reconnect the esophagus and stomach.
“And that needs to heal. And when that doesn’t heal, the contents leak out. A leak can be out of control where the patient is sick. Sepsis can potentially lead to death,” explains Mount Sinai Chief of Thoracic Surgery, Dr. Raja Flores.
Dr. Flores and his colleagues have revised the procedure in a way that maximizes good blood flow to the area.
“We figured out that you can do the operation without cutting that right gastric artery. And it’s not just the artery, but it’s the vein. You wanna make sure you keep everything intact,” Dr. Flores further explains.
The revised surgery lowers the complication rate from 25 percent of the patients to just under two percent.
At first, Martinez was afraid to have surgery, but Dr. Flores convinced him it would be lifesaving. Now, that he’s recovered, Martinez says unlike the antiques he collects, these days, he feels brand new.
Dr. Flores says the new technique also decreases surgical time from seven hours to two and a half. He says it’s important for patients to know that a heartburn, and acid reflux, fueled by an increase in obesity, can be life-threatening if not addressed.
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