March 25, 2008

Miami Doctor Performs Unprecedented Cancer Surgery

After 63-year-old Brooke Zepp was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare life-threatening form of cancer in her abdomen, her doctors faced the daunting challenge of removing a total of six organs in order to take out the tumor, which was wrapped around her aorta and the base of two other arteries.

Miami transplant doctor Dr. Tomoaki Kato performed Zepp's surgery, which required him to remove her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and small intestines during a 15-hour operation at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. The organs were chilled outside of Zepp's body during the surgery

"There's nothing really simple here," Kato, who trained as a surgeon at Osaka University in Japan, said. "I don't want to say acrobatic but it's kind of, in a way. It's a very tricky operation."

"We've done pieces of this surgery many times but not the whole thing like this," said Kato, who led a team of doctors that operated on Zepp.

After the tumor was removed, each of the organs was placed in their original location. Kato said he hopes the unprecedented operation will have many future applications for people with man common diseases.

"There might be a lot of applications," he said.

"She came to me out of desperation, I'm really glad it worked out well."

Zepp had many blood vessels replaced with artificial Gore-Tex vessels during the operation. She was expected to be discharged from her hospital this week.


On the Net:

Leiomyosarcoma - Wikipedia

University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center