Michael, Kathy, Glen, Gabrielle, Alden and Kathleen Snajder. Missing: Amanda.
A 42-year-old Monroe father of five learnsthat having colon surgery isn’t as bad as it sounds—when it’s
done as a minimally invasive procedure at Bridgeport Hospital.
omething wasn’t right.
It wasn’t the flu and it wasn’t his appendix (he’d had
that out years ago). But the fever, the horrible chills, the abdominal
pain (“It sometimes knocked me to the floor!”), the loss of appetite,
the exhaustion in a normally healthy man—no, something definitely wasn’t
So 42–year-old Glen Snajder went to Bridgeport
Hospital’s Emergency Department. A series of tests showed that he had
diverticulitis—an infection in his colon. (The colon is the major
portion of the large intestine.) Intravenous antibiotics and four days
in the hospital brought the fever down, and Glen went home thinking,
“Well, I’ll watch my diet, eat more fiber, and that will be that.”
During his initial stay at Bridgeport Hospital, Glen was
treated by Gregory Soloway, MD, a gastroenterologist (specialist in
diseases of the digestive tract). In a follow-up procedure a few months
later, Dr. Soloway performed a
(a procedure that involves
sliding a slim tube with a camera up into the colon so the doctor can
see what’s going on inside).
“I could see that his lower colon was quite thickened
and abnormal-looking,” says Dr. Soloway, “but he seemed to be
progressing well.” A round of antibiotics helped.
However, diverticulitis in a man as young as Glen is
cause for watchful concern. It’s usually a disease of people over age
50. When found in younger people, it’s a much more aggressive condition.
And Glen’s condition was aggressive. After his third attack of diverticulitis, and third round of antibiotics, in a
four-month period, Dr. Soloway determined that the diverticulitis had
become chronic. He recommended that Glen consider having the diseased
section of his colon removed—and that he have it done before his disease
progressed to the point where emergency surgery was required.
So Glen went to colorectal surgeon Scott Thornton, MD,
Dr. Thornton had the proverbial bad news and good news.
Glen really did need to have about a foot of diseased colon removed —
but there was a way to do it without having to open up his abdomen.
Instead of a long abdominal scar, minimally invasive surgery would
involve only three small incisions.
Glen’s point of view: “If you can have the minimally
invasive procedure done by an expert, with smaller scars, less pain, a
shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery— well, why wouldn’t you?”
Glen came to Bridgeport Hospital on June 26, 2006, for
surgery. While expert anesthesiologist Amarjit Lamba, MD, monitored
Glen’s breathing and oxygen levels, Dr. Thornton made two incisions in
Glen’s lower abdomen, plus a third in Glen’s navel through which he
inserted a miniature camera.
“Because the camera presents a magnified view, I can see
even better than with the naked eye,” he explains.
As is true for all surgeries, surgeons and
anesthesiologists work in close partnership during minimally invasive
Dr. Lamba continually observed and made fine adjustments
to ventilation, fluids and anesthesia drugs as Glen’s abdomen was
inflated and his body frequently repositioned to help Dr. Thornton
achieve the best possible views of the area.
Using miniature instruments inserted through the
abdominal incisions, Dr. Thornton cut out the diseased portion of
intestine, “like removing a section of damaged, rusty pipe,” he says. He
next positioned a special tubular stapling device through the rectum up
to the area of removed colon. “Then,” he explains, “I pulled the two
ends of the pipe together, and used the stapler to simultaneously staple
all around the circumference of the pipe to hold the ends together.” The
diseased segment of colon was withdrawn through the navel.
The operation was a complete success. Glen began eating
solid foods the day following surgery and went home the next day. Within
three weeks he was back at work on a reduced schedule as a bank
supervisor. Two weeks later, he was back to work on his regular
schedule. His diet is now normal— with an emphasis on plenty of fiber
“to keep things moving,” he says with a grin.
Glen’s advice to anyone with symptomatic diverticulitis:
“You’re not going to get any healthier! Ask your doctor about minimally
invasive surgery and take advantage of this newer, easier procedure.”
OK, time for a discussion of all the diverticular things you may have heard about. Bridgeport Hospital–affiliated gastroenterologist Darlene Negbenebor, MD, explains:
(singular: diverticulum) are
little pouches that form on the inside of the digestive tract.
Lots of people have diverticula, “and 90 percent of the people
who have them don’t even know it,” says Dr. Negbenebor.
is a catchall term for
conditions that involve diverticula.
is a condition in which you
have lots of diverticula. (Osis = abnormal increase.) Again, if
you have no symptoms, there is no problem. The problem comes
when you progress to…
That’s when the
diverticula become inflamed (swollen) and infected. (Itis =
inflammation.) “At this point you are pretty sure to be having
symptoms. If you have not seen your d