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Release Date: 8/2/2013

Retired firefighter is back to boating, bicycling after single-incision, robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery

Charlie Granda is back on the links.

Charlie Granda is back on the links.

For years, Charlie Granda’s main mode of transportation was a pumper truck belonging to the Maplewood Fire Department. These days, the Sunset Hills retiree divides his time between land and water, as he spends his leisure hours golfing, boating and cycling.

One morning in late May, however, Charlie found himself grounded. He awakened with pain that resembled a severe stomachache, and he started to head out with his bicycle for Grant’s Trail nearby, but the pain intensified. He took a shower and tried to relax, but nothing seemed to help. He drove to the doctor’s office, but en route became concerned the pain may be heart-related, so he stopped in at a Mehlville Fire Protection District firehouse for an EKG.

“I was a firefighter for 33 years, and it kind of rattled me a little bit,” recalled Charlie, 62. “I had never experienced a pain like that in that part of my body.”

The pain worsened, and he was transported by ambulance to St. Anthony’s Emergency Department. Doctors determined Charles was in the process of passing a gallstone, and he was referred to surgeon Bradley Ross, D.O., of St. Louis Surgical Services. Soon after, he opted to undergo single-incision, robotic-assisted cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal surgery. Dr. Ross is the first surgeon in the South County area, and one of only a few in the St. Louis area, to perform this surgery.

“I was very pleased with Dr. Ross,” Charlie said. “He gave me the options and made it very simple. There wasn’t much to it, to be honest: I had a little discomfort in the abdomen, but it wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Recovery time and the healing process were fast, and I was able to resume normal activity soon after surgery.

“The staff treated me very well, and I was pleased with their care,” he added. “My post-surgical nurse also was a golfer, so that made it much easier. I had a knee replacement earlier in the year, so this was the most contact I’ve had with hospitals my entire life.”

Gallbladder removal has been performed in recent years via a procedure known as manual laparoscopy. Dr. Ross has performed numerous cholecystectomies using manual laparoscopy, which requires four incisions.

“In my opinion robotic surgery will become the gold standard,” Dr. Ross said. “Robotic cholecystectomy requires only one incision, making it virtually scarless. Also, perhaps more importantly, the da Vinci robot allows the surgeon to see the incision site in three dimensions. With conventional laparoscopy, you can’t gauge depth and visualization is poor.

“Robotically, I can see better,” Dr. Ross added. “Seeing is everything in surgery.”

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ under the liver that stores and concentrates bile to help digest fat. About 10 to 15 percent of Americans suffer from gallbladder disease, caused by inflammation, infection or blockage (such as gallstones) of the organ. When routine medical care fails to ease the symptoms of gallbladder disease, the patient’s doctor may opt to remove the organ. In the U.S. each year, one million residents undergo gallbladder removal surgery.

In addition to minimal scarring, the potential benefits of single-incision surgery include minimal pain, low blood loss, fast recovery, short hospital stay and higher patient satisfaction.

To make an appointment with Dr. Ross, call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669).

The third largest medical center in the St. Louis metropolitan area, St. Anthony’s is one of only a few medical centers in St. Louis to offer single-incision, robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery. Doctors at St. Anthony’s also perform da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery for various gynecological procedures, including hysterectomy and sacrocolpopexy; and urologic procedures such as prostate and kidney surgery (prostatectomy, nephrectomy and partial nephrectomy). These procedures, in many instances, are used to treat or remove cancer.

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For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.

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