Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Veteran Finally Cancer-free after Medically Advanced, Laparoscopic Liver Surgery

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Anaya and Mikel

Less than two weeks after surgery, Army Veteran Roy Mikel is free of cancer and has a new outlook on life. “I have been very impressed with the medical care and the amazing technology at the VA,” said Mickel. PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner, PAO

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HOUSTON – Cancer experts at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) recently removed a patient’s liver tumor using a medically advanced, laparoscopic technique.

Roy Mikel, a 67-year-old Army Veteran, is now free of cancer. He was among the first patients treated at the hospital using this minimally invasive approach.

Daniel A. Anaya, M.D., surgical oncologist, director of the DeBakey VA Liver Tumor Program, and an assistant professor of Surgery/Surgical Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, removed Mikel’s liver tumor using an innovative procedure that reduces blood loss, improves wound healing, decreases infections and the chance of complications, and shortens a patient’s recovery time, compared to traditional, open liver surgery.

“Mr. Mikel’s case was especially difficult because he had two previous open surgeries for colon cancer and there was an extreme amount of scar tissue,” said Anaya, a member of a multidisciplinary team of experienced and knowledgeable cancer care specialists at the DeBakey VA.

To perform a laparoscopic procedure, doctors insert a laparoscope – a flexible, fiber optic instrument - through a small incision in the patient’s abdomen. To treat Mikel's liver tumor, Anaya and his team completed a major hepatectomy through a three-inch incision, rather than the standard 30-inch long incision made during traditional liver surgery. Additional instruments, specifically designed for performing liver operations, were introduced through four, less than one half-inch incisions. This allows physicians to safely and efficiently perform the surgery.

While the first laparoscopic liver surgery was performed elsewhere in 1992, surgeons throughout the country have only recently begun using laparoscopes to remove large portions of patients’ livers to treat cancer.

Mikel had an uneventful recovery, and less than two weeks after surgery, returned for a postoperative follow-up revealing adequate healing and a speedy recovery. He now has a new outlook on life.

“I have been very impressed with the care and the amazing technology at the VA,” said Mickel. “Today, I have a very positive prognosis and look forward to getting back to my family, enjoying my retirement, and shooting pool, my favorite hobby,.”

“The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center offers Veterans the latest medical and surgical treatments available for cancer,” said David H. Berger, M.D., M.H.C.M., Operative Care Line executive at the MEDVAMC and professor of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “Our entire staff constantly strives to open new doors and make new medical alternatives available for our Nation’s heroes.”

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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 120,000 veterans in southeast Texas. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, and Richmond, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged more than one million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2010. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit www.houston.va.gov.