On Oct. 19, Jones used the da Vinci robot to perform mitral valve surgery on Melancon at Lafayette General Medical Center. A week later, Melancon was up and around, then released from the hospital. This was a significant change from her first cardiac surgery, where her recovery took about a month. "We wanted to avoid going through her breastbone because of her prior surgery, because of the scar and adhesions," Jones says. "And, that's big stress on anybody, much less an 85-year-old. So, we were able to go through the side of her chest, and she did really well. With the other surgery, her recovery would have been much more severe, much harder."
Today, Melancon is doing just fine. "I feel better," she says in her Cajun accent. "Before the surgery, I was hurting, and I'm not hurting anymore."
Jones performs two closed-chest valve procedures which are new to this area. The first is aortic valve surgery through a small incision in the upper chest. Most heart surgery is performed through sternotomy, which involves dividing or cracking the breastbone. Jones' technique uses small, 5-centimeter incisions through the chest to reach the aortic valve. Since moving to Lafayette two months ago, Jones has performed six aortic valve replacements using this technique.
The other minimally invasive procedure is the one he performed on Melancon, mitral valve surgery with the da Vinci robot. Jones was the first surgeon in the state to use the robot for cardiac procedures and has the most experience with a variety of robotic heart procedures nationwide. With this technique, the surgeon places instruments into the patient's chest through small "poke holes." At a console, the doctor uses two "joy sticks" to operate the arms of the robot, which are actually inside the heart. The instruments have two small hinge points, allowing the surgeon to move the instruments with a wrist-like motion to do whatever is necessary ' dissect, cut, sew ' to repair or reconstruct the valve.
While this all sounds like science fiction, Jones says this technique is perfectly safe. Since the da Vinci uses a state-of-the-art camera in 3-D and high definition, the surgeon's vision is much better with the console. "You just have finer details when you are operating with the robot, as opposed to the standard way," he says.
Most significantly, the recovery time is drastically reduced. "We are not breaking or cutting any bones," Jones says, "so patients really can get back to work in two or three weeks, as opposed to eight weeks."
After surgery, patients' limitations are what he calls "miniscule." Within a week, they have few, if any, physical restrictions. Jones cites the example of a 79-year-old Nebraska farmer who was hauling 25-pound buckets of feed to his cattle just 10 days post-surgery. "You just can't do that if you have the sternotomy," he says. "We've shown that the recovery time in the hospital is quicker as well. We've had people go home on post-operative day number two and post-operative day number three, as opposed to being in the hospital four or five days."
Additionally, the resulting scar is minimal. Open-chest procedures typically leave an 8- to 10-inch gash down the center of the torso, while closed-chest surgeries produce just a slight incision mark. In Melancon's case, she was left with small scars under her right arm and on her breast.
While robotic mitral valve surgery is relatively new ' the first case was performed in May 2007 ' the reports are encouraging so far. "We've had anecdotal results and five-year results," Jones says, "and those results, to date, are very, very positive, and show just as good a result as surgery done the old-fashioned way."
Another advantage is that just about anyone with isolated valve problems is a candidate for the surgery. Jones has used the robot on three morbidly obese women in Nebraska and performed the closed-chest valve procedure on a 400-pound man in South Carolina. "I think anyone who needs mitral valve surgery should at least be evaluated for a minimally invasive approach," he says. Currently, Jones performs 14 different cardiac procedures with the da Vinci. In fact, he did the first robotic tricuspid valve repair in the country. The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium (top chamber) and right ventricle (bottom chamber). Its role is to make sure blood flows in a forward direction from the right atrium to the ventricle, but if it does not function properly, blood can leak backwards across the valve.
Jones is optimistic about the future of robotics, anticipating that they will expand to lung surgery. "I think the techniques will get better, and the software, the robot and the computer will get better," he says. "It will just become more of a standard of care. Five years or 10 years from now, the technology is only going to get better. The number of programs offered for robotic cardiac surgery is expanding. So, it's a technique that people need to know. [Patients] need to look at the Internet, and see what's out there for options. Because not all facilities offer this, and probably not all cardiologists are going to offer this. And patients need to know that it is available for them, and to ask for it."
Word of mouth might be the best way to educate the public, as patients like Melancon aren't shy about talking up the procedure. "Because it works ' it works good," she says emphatically.
Casual cool for Thanksgiving
Shop Lafayette goes strong
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
Three bedroom in Port Barre or two bedroom in Opelousas
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
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State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
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