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.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, April 17, 2014:
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
The must have pieces this season
Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
It’s not how aggressive or conservative you are — it’s planning for risk that matters most.
Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.