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Minimally invasive surgery means more options for patients

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Howard Day might be the only Atco resident that looks forward to mowing the lawn. "Only 10 months ago, I learned I had lung cancer," he remembers. "Now, after minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and chemotherapy, a simple job like mowing my lawn reminds me of how far I've come in my recovery."

Day's recovery began with minimally invasive thoracic surgery at Virtua Health. This surgery specifically targets thoracic cancers and growths on the lungs. Unlike traditional surgery, this procedure leaves patients with a smaller incision, shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.

Christopher Derivaux, MD, Virtua thoracic surgeon, says minimally invasive techniques are changing the way patients and doctors treat thoracic cancers and benign growths. "A traditional lung surgery requires an eight- or nine-inch incision that includes spreading the patient's ribs to get to the lung. Today, that same surgery requires only a three-inch incision, and there is no need to spread the ribs."

Dr. Derivaux also says patients once considered too high risk to undergo traditional thoracic surgery are benefiting from minimally invasive procedures. "With MIS, I can treat people at almost any age or weight - even those who have existing medical conditions that might otherwise keep them from having surgery," says Dr. Derivaux.

Hazel Hulme was one of those patients. At 79- years-young, traditional lung surgery may have caused complications and a long recovery.Without a minimally invasive procedure, she might not have had surgery at all. Instead, she remembers: "I was admitted on a Thursday morning and, by Sunday, I was on my way home. I had nothing more than a two-inch incision that healed quickly."

"MIS can benefit almost all patients that need lung surgery, especially those with lung cancer," says Dr. Derivaux. "It helps these patients recover quicker so they can start additional treatments like chemotherapy soon after surgery."

Day couldn't agree more. Only five days after his lung surgery, he began working with his clinical team on a treatment plan. "I left the hospital with nothing but a few bandages and medications," says Day. "I was prepared for the long journey ahead and ready to get back to life."


PHYSICIAN PROFILE

Christopher Derivaux, MD, is a board-certified thoracic surgeon. He graduated from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed a surgical residency and a trauma critical care fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He completed a fellowship in thoracic surgery at New York University Medical Center.