AS A UROLOGIC ONCOLOGY surgeon at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Ryan Cleary, MD, focuses on caring for patients with prostate, kidney, or bladder cancers whose treatment plan calls for surgery. Fortunately for his patients, Dr. Cleary specializes in a state-of-the-art surgical option that helps streamline and, in some cases, even simplifies surgery.
“Historically, a patient who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery may have ended up with a large incision, probably would have spent multiple nights in the hospital before being discharged, and would have needed an extended period of time off work to recover,” says Dr. Cleary. “Robotic surgery has completely changed that.”
Through the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System, Dr. Cleary, who is co-medical director of the Robotic Surgery program at MedStar Franklin Square, is optimizing both patient experiences and outcomes. Consistent with the benefits of many other surgical procedures that can be performed robotically, Dr. Cleary’s patients tend to experience less blood loss, less pain, a decreased risk for post-surgical complications, a shorter hospital stay, and a quicker recovery and return to normal, daily activities.
“Some patients are really surprised when I tell them they will be encouraged to get up out of bed and walk around the hospital, just a few hours after surgery,” Dr. Cleary explains. “But most can. And one of the reasons is that patients who have robotic surgery leave the operating room with a few very small incisions that are ultimately not going to cause as much pain as would be the case if the surgery was performed using another approach.”
Using a small 3D camera and instruments that are the size of a dime, Dr. Cleary can repair or remove tissue, tumors, or organs in their entirety from 280 different angles. Seated at a console inside the operating room, he positions his eyes and hands in alignment with the robotic system’s camera and instruments, to operate with extreme precision.
It’s that precision that helped Doug Wenrich recover quickly, and with minimal pain, when he had robotic prostate surgery following a cancer diagnosis in late 2017.
Wenrich, who was just 54 years old at the time, opted to have surgery rather than a series of radiation treatments over a two-year period. The decision was made after Dr. Cleary outlined his options and the pros and cons of each.
“You never want to hear the word cancer but Dr. Cleary explained my diagnosis very thoroughly and convinced me that what I was dealing with was not a death sentence,” says Wenrich. “My goal was to eliminate the cancer and move on with my life, as quickly as possible. Lucky for me, he gave me the means to do exactly that.”
True to Dr. Cleary’s word, Wenrich was up and walking five hours after surgery, and was discharged from the hospital the following day. The pain he experienced was much less than expected; in fact, he never took the pain medicine that was prescribed to be used on an as-needed basis.
“I understand it was a major surgery,” he says. “But honestly, it felt more like an outpatient procedure.”
Today, Wenrich is back to work as a sales representative and, most importantly, once again enjoying his true life passions—camping and boating. He and his wife, Vivian, enjoy taking their motorhome to destinations across Maryland, such as Rockhall and Williamsport, as well as Raystown Lake and Mountain Creek in Pennsylvania.
“My scars remind me of what I’ve been through, but they are small, and they are fading,” Wenrich notes. “But I am not living in fear anymore. Life can be short, so my focus is on enjoying mine.”
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MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237