Retired nurse benefits from da Vinci
Vernelle Faulkner saw plenty of ear aches and sore throats during her 11 years as a nurse for retired pediatrician Glen Chaney, M.D.
Ate age 83, Faulkner started experiencing a sore throat of her own. When it didn't go away quickly, she knew her age, coupled with many years of smoking, was good enough reason to talk to her primary care physician. Without delay, he referred her to a specialist.
Otolaryngologist Daren Kest, D.O., performed the biopsy, confirming her suspicion -- cancer. "I was in a hurry to get it out," Faulkner said. "I was so impressed with Dr. Kest that I immediately knew I would do whatever he recommended."
Dr. Kest recommended removing the throat cancer with the da Vinci TransOral Robotic Surgery at Baptist Health Paducah, the only hospital in the region to offer da Vinci.
"Seeing our patients benefit from the leading-edge technology is thrilling," Dr. Kest said. "Using the da Vinci to treat throat cancer saves the quality of life for many patients by allowing them to keep their voice box and in some cases eliminating the need for chemotherapy or other treatments. They are able to pick up right where they left off."
In fact, Faulkner hasn't had a single problem since her surgery. "It's unbelievable," she said. "I came out of surgery talking. I went through therapy to learn to swallow again, and then it was back to my usual routines. I was fortunate and did not need chemotherapy."
With da Vinci, the cancer can be removed through the mouth with no external incisions or insertion of tubes for breathing and feeding. In contrast, traditional open surgery may involve a long incision through the neck, chin, jaw and throat – often requiring a breathing tube and possibly a feeding tube and removal of the voice box. The da Vinci may eliminate or reduce the need for chemotherapy and radiation, reducing the side effects of further cancer treatment.