Returning to Her Element: Innovative Procedure for Hernia Repair Means Quicker Recovery

Innovative Procedure for Hernia Repair Means Quicker Recovery

Palmer was able to get back outdoors quickly after robotic surgery to repair a painful hernia.

There is no place in the world Fawn Palmer would rather be than out on the water in her kayak. The majority of her life and her career as an environmental and estuary educator has revolved around nature and the great outdoors. So, when a lingering, nagging pain in her abdomen became so intense that she could no longer lift her boat in and out of her truck, or transport it to and from the water’s edge, Palmer was devastated.

“I lost my purpose in life,” Palmer recalls. “Not being able to get out on the water and do what I love took so much away from me.”

Initially, it didn’t occur to Palmer that she was dealing with a serious medical condition. She started doing simple exercises, stretching, and a yoga class, with hopes that strengthening her stomach muscles would resolve the pain. Then, one day while lying on her back, Palmer felt a bubbling sensation in her stomach, and watched as a bulge formed and pressed outward, just above her belly button. She panicked.

“I called my primary care physician and explained what happened,” says Palmer. “And I was told I probably had a hernia and needed to see a surgeon immediately.”

She turned to Michael Matsuura, MD, a general surgeon at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center who specializes in robotic surgical techniques for hernia repairs and surgeries for conditions such as gallbladder and bowel obstructions. He said that without surgery, her condition and pain would get worse, quickly. He also explained the many benefits associated with using robotic technology.

“Robotic surgery has greatly improved and simplified the way we can repair hernias,” says Dr. Matsuura. “Instead of requiring a huge incision, that also carries a risk for infection and complications, we use the da Vinci® Surgical System, which allows me to perform the procedure with extreme precision, using a few very small incisions.”

Palmer required no further convincing after her initial consultation with Dr. Matsuura.

“Of course, no one wants to hear they have to have surgery, but there was something kind of exciting about it too,” Palmer says. “The idea that my doctor would use this great technology to perform my surgery, in a way that would make my recovery easier, was pretty appealing.”

With robotic technology, individuals like Palmer can normally resume their active lives sooner.

Palmer, age 60, went into surgery with a positive mindset. She was confident that once the surgery was behind her, she would be able to resume her normal, happy, nature-filled lifestyle. She proved herself right when just a few weeks after surgery, she set out for her first morning on the water at Eden Mill Nature Center in Harford County.

“I literally cried tears of happiness,” says Palmer, mom to four adult children and grandmother to 10 grandchildren. “It was so rejuvenating to be out on my kayak again. I am very grateful for the care I received.”

Dr. Matsuura says that patient outcomes like those experienced by Palmer speak volumes about the strength of MedStar Franklin Square’s robotic surgical services. One thing that sets the hospital apart, he says, is the diverse scope of surgical specialties that are offered using this state-of-the-art technology.

“MedStar Franklin Square is fully committed to the robotic platform, from the administrators and support staff to the surgeons,” adds Dr. Matsuura. “It makes it possible for surgeons to operate at a higher level, with better reach and precision. With robotic technology, a technically difficult case, or one that comes with a lot of unknowns becomes less complicated. It is a superior technology that we are fortunate to have.”

Learn More

For more information or a physician referral, please call 443-777-7900.

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

The da Vinci® Surgical System has been approved for robotic procedures that include bariatric, colorectal, gynecologic, urogynecologic, and general surgeries—all of which are performed at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.