Jamie Gentry had been bothered by hip pain for years. She remembers her hip hurting when she played high school soccer in Grayson, Ga. It hurt when she married her husband, David, and when they moved to Comer. It continued to hurt when she took a job with Athens Orthopedic Clinic and when she returned to school to become a certified x-ray technologist.
In 2010, the pain got worse and began shooting down her leg. Her physician recommended she get an MRI. Afterwards, she braced herself for the news she knew she would hear: that at only 23, she needed a hip replacement.
The actual news was worse.
“They told me that my hip looked fine, but recommended I see my gynecologist immediately for what looked like a tumor on my uterus,” Jamie says. “I heard the word ‘tumor’, and of course, I freaked out.”
Jamie scheduled an appointment with Rachel Murthy, MD, for the very next day. Dr. Murthy diagnosed the mass as a pre-cancerous cyst on Jamie’s ovary and recommended surgery to remove it. “I knew the cyst had to go,” Jamie says. “Anything that could possibly cause cancer or could lead to cancer is obviously very scary.”
But there were several factors to consider. First, the x-ray tech program in which Jamie was enrolled is intense and highly structured. “I needed surgery, but I also knew I could not miss much more than a week of school and still graduate on time,” Jamie says. She felt she could manage the 2-week recovery period associated with minimally invasive surgery, but not the 4-6 weeks required by an open surgical procedure.
The problem is that the cyst was large – roughly the size of a grapefruit – which posed challenges for the most common minimally invasive technique, laparoscopic surgery.
And there was another question, too: Jamie and David wanted to start a family. Could the cyst be removed without causing too much damage to her ovary? What form of surgery could remove the cyst, get her back to school fast, and give her the best chance of becoming a mother?
Jamie had seen ads for a new kind of minimally invasive procedure – da Vinci robotic surgery at St. Mary’s – and wondered if it might be right for her. With fast recovery times and less pain and blood loss than open surgery, it seemed like an good option, but was it the best?
Jamie talked it over with Dr. Murthy, who is a certified da Vinci surgeon, and learned more: the da Vinci system combines highly magnified 3-D imaging with miniaturized surgical tools that the surgeon operates right at the bedside. The robot is an extension of the surgeon’s hands, allowing him or her to perform incredibly complex procedures through tiny incisions. Most importantly, Dr. Murthy told her, the da Vinci’s superior visual field and dexterity made it a better option in her case than laparoscopic surgery.
Jamie chose da Vinci surgery.
On Dec. 29, 2010, Jamie arrived at St. Mary’s for her operation. The staff welcomed her warmly and put her at ease. Feeling assured that she was in good hands, Jamie relaxed as she was prepped for surgery.
“It was my first major surgery and I felt great,” she says. “I had four small incisions on my abdomen to show for it, each about half an inch long. I missed just over a week of school, exactly like I had planned. I actually felt good enough to go back a week earlier than I did, but decided against it.”
The best news came just six months later when she and David found out they were expecting their first baby.
“Dr. Murthy promised she would leave as much of my ovary as possible, and that keeping any portion of your ovary is better than removing it completely when it comes to trying to get pregnant,” Jamie says. “It amazes me that they were able to remove it and still cared enough to consider my future hopes for a family. That made this pregnancy even more special.”
Their son, Abram, was born at St. Mary’s on March 15, 2012, a healthy little boy at 7 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 inches in length.
“We are overjoyed to finally have him here,” Jamie says. “Words cannot describe how absolutely wonderful the facility and staff in Labor and Delivery were to us. If I could have, I probably would have moved in for a week. I have had nothing but wonderful experiences at St. Mary’s and am truly grateful that it serves the community in which we live!
“As women, we are all being pulled in lots of directions,” she adds. “I was 23 years old, working and going to school. The last thing I could afford was to be off my feet for long. I would recommend the da Vinci surgical system to any woman facing a gynecological issue that requires surgery, both for significantly less pain and a quick recovery.”
St. Mary’s introduced the da Vinci SI Robotic Surgical System to Athens in 2010. Since then, surgeons have used it to perform more than 260 gynecological, thoracic and urological procedures. da Vinci surgical patients usually experience less pain, less scarring, less blood loss, faster recovery and quicker return to normal activities than is possible with open procedures. Meet St. Mary’s da Vinci surgeons and learn more about da Vinci surgery here.