Ashland native Leslie Bratley struggled with gallbladder issues for several years before an attack left her in pain so severe, she was debilitated for about 4-hours.
“It was really, really painful. I toughed through it, but it was extremely unpleasant,” she recalls.
Dr. George Fall understands. He’s been working with gallbladder patients for decades.
“This is a common story. People have abdominal pain so severe you think you might even be having a heart attack. But then it goes away almost as quickly as it came and it feels normal again. The patient is left not knowing what caused the pain,” he explains.
But, in Bratley’s case, she knew it was time to consult Dr. Fall. “I had been dealing with gallbladder issues for about two years. I literally couldn’t take it anymore,” she says.
After a consultation, Bratley decided to have her gallbladder removed. But, what she didn’t realize was that new technology to reduce incision size, pain, and recovery time was being offered at Memorial Medical Center.
This past spring, Dr. Fall began performing single-site surgery via the da Vinci robot at MMC. The da Vinci Xi is about 1-year old but the ability to conduct gallbladder surgery with a single incision under the belly button is new.
Single-Site technology allows patients to experience virtually scarless results, while receiving the benefits of robotic surgery. This includes a 3 dimensional, HD view inside the body, additional dexterity that exceeds the human hand, and a clarity surgeons have never had before.
“The optics on the da Vinci are so much better than we’ve ever had in the past,” Dr. Fall says.
After consulting and learning more about the options, Bratley decided to be the first patient in Ashland to receive this surgery.
“To me, it wasn’t so much about the reduced scarring but instead less cutting and less incisions. I felt better fast and there just wasn’t much pain around the incision area. Today, you wouldn’t even know where to find the cut. It was great.”
The surgery lasted about 2 hours, allowing Bratley to see her kids off to school and be home resting on the couch by the time they got home. She says the ability to receive this state-of-the-art surgery so close to home is something she loves about living here.
“It is wonderful to have it done here. My family is here. I don’t have to travel. You feel comfortable knowing the people that are around you. You see familiar faces. It is a comfort to have that sense of community,” she says.
As for Dr. Fall, after 24+ years of doing surgeries in Ashland, he says he’s confident about having one more tool for patients in the Chequamegon Bay area.
“People who work at MMC are proud of what they do. It is wonderful to offer these services here, where we live.”