Thoracic Surgeon First to Perform VATS Lung Lobectomies in Lee County, FL

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Lung cancer patients now have a new option when it comes to surgery. Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, Fort Myers, Florida, is the only thoracic surgeon south of Sarasota able to perform the less invasive VATS Lung Lobectomies surgery, which means less pain and shorter recovery times for his patients.

Dr. DiGiorgi operates at HealthPark Medical Center

Essentially, the patient feels no pain other than the discomfort of the temporary chest tubes. There are lower amounts of bleeding and lower percentages of pneumonia. The benefits are significant.

Lung cancer patients now have a new option when it comes to surgery. Dr. DiGiorgi is the only thoracic surgeon south of Sarasota able to perform the less invasive VATS Lung Lobectomies surgery, which means less pain and shorter recovery times for his patients.

A week after playing golf, Pauline Staples had a stiff shoulder and could not raise her arm above her head. An X-ray of her shoulder accidentally found a lump in her lung. Further pulmonary testing confirmed the tumor, a growth doctors referred to as "probably not benign."

"I was pretty shaken up," Pauline says. "I hadn't thought in those terms."

Then Pauline heard about Dr. Paul DiGiorgi. Practicing through Lee Memorial Health System, Dr. DiGiorgi became the first thoracic surgeon in Southwest Florida to perform formal lung lobectomies, actively removing a large part of the lung, through the less invasive Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) lung lobectomy procedure.

"I do surgery with a scope, no rib spreading, no muscle cutting," says Dr. DiGiorgi, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon. "With the scope inside the chest, you can drive the camera anywhere you want to see. You see magnified detail of each corner of the chest. I feel it's much better than trying to look in with your eyes."

Many of the same operations that used to require opening the chest completely can now be done by use of a scope. Many lung problems, such as lung resections, draining fluid or biopsies, qualify for the VATS lung procedure, although severely large tumors or removals of the chest wall may still call for open thoracic surgeries.

"The difference in pain is astonishing," says Dr. DiGiorgi, who operates at HealthPark Medical Center and Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center. "Essentially, the patient feels no pain other than the discomfort of the temporary chest tubes. There are lower amounts of bleeding and lower percentages of pneumonia. The benefits are significant."

Pauline remembers an abscessed tooth being more painful than the lobectomy she had on the right upper lobe of her lung. The 78-year-old spent 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit and two days in a step-down unit before going home. Other patients may be discharged two days after surgery, expediting their return to work.

"I feel very blessed," Pauline says, tears welling. "Throughout the whole thing, I had a certain feeling of peace. I was in capable hands, in good hands. I thank my lucky stars
Dr. DiGiorgi came to Fort Myers when he did."

About Lee Memorial Health System:
Open since 1916, Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS) is the fifth largest public health system in the United States and the largest community-owned health system in Southwest Florida. With over 8,500 employees, LMHS is made up of five acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals, as well as outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers and primary care physician offices.

An award-winning health care system, LMHS provides regional programs, such as our Trauma Center and Children's Hospital, which serves our community members from Tampa to Miami. Visit http://www.leememorial.org for more information.

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Brandy Church

Whitney H. Andreu

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