Truman's Story: Laparoscopic And Robotic Lead To Shorter Hospital Stay

“Absolutely, it was the worst pain I ever felt. It brought me to tears,” said 90-year old Truman Harrison, describing intense stomach pain that lead him to being admitted to Upper Valley Medical Center in the fall of 2016. 

Truman’s condition was determined to be a paraesophageal hernia that was associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When a person eats, food travels from the mouth down the esophagus to the stomach. Along the way, food passes through a one-way valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES sits at the opening to the stomach. Normally the LES opens when a person swallows. It lets food enter the stomach, then closes quickly. With GERD, the LES doesn’t work normally. It lets food and stomach acid flow back (reflux) into the esophagus.

Truman’s condition required immediate surgery. L. Stewart Lowry, MD, of Miami County Surgeons performed a procedure known as a Nissen fundoplication. During fundoplication, the LES is restructured. This is done by wrapping the very top of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus. The paraesophageal hernia was also repaired during the surgery.

“Dr. Lowry explained everything to me. I found him to be quite nice and easy to understand,” Truman said. 

Dr. Lowry explained that he would be able to perform the fundoplication as a robotic laparoscopic procedure. Laparoscopic meant that only 2 to 4 small incisions would be needed to allow Dr. Lowry to correct Truman’s problem. Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform complex procedures with more precision, flexibility, and control than is possible with conventional techniques.

Truman’s surgery was on September 16, 2016, at the Upper Valley Medical Center, part of Premier Health. Because the surgery was laparoscopic and robotic, Truman needed only a short hospital stay and returned to his assisted living residence in Tipp City within two days.

“After surgery that terrible pain was gone and I have had a good recovery,” Truman said. “I have had other surgeries in my life and this one was far easier in terms of recovery.”