Health Beat

Health Beat: New lung cancer surgery

WASHINGTON - Being diagnosed with lung cancer is frightening for patients and families.

"The diagnosis itself is shocking. You know, it's terrifying," said lung cancer survivor Eleanor W. Traylor.

Because she was 82 at the time of diagnosis, Traylor's doctor advised against surgery, instead suggesting radiation and chemotherapy.

"I just knew that it would be toxic for me and that I couldn't survive it," said Traylor.

But Traylor's next-door neighbor, an oncologist at the National Institute of Health, knew about a groundbreaking technique at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Traylor got a second chance.

"We were able, with a video camera, approach to take out the tumor, take out the airway, and then transplant the lower lobe and middle lobe back on," said Dr. M. Blair Marshall, the hospital's chief of thoracic surgery.

Marshall, a practicing surgeon for 20 years, continually seeks more efficient, safer ways to operate using a camera smaller than the thumb, extender tools and a good eye.

"Because I work on camera for pretty much 95 percent of what I do, I've... my brain has adapted to the 2D view. I have to go between the ribs, and the nerves are there. The smaller the better because the less trauma to the nerves," Marshall said.

Because of this minimally-invasive surgery, Traylor was able to go home just three days post-op.

"Miraculous things to happen to surgery, and I just thank God for Dr. Marshall, who has perfected this thing," said Traylor.

Minimally-invasive lung surgery is done without an epidural, which impacts blood pressure, but doesn't impact the chest and ribs like traditional surgery. Marshall uses nerve blocks for the pain.

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