Laparoscopic Colostomy Reversal Performed for the First Time
Last summer Aurora Blades wasn’t sure she would ever live a “normal” lifestyle again. Mrs. Blades underwent an exploratory procedure last July, under the skillful hands of Dr. Phillip Leggett. What Dr. Leggett found was a badly infected colon, as a result of diverticulitis, and adhesions in the pelvis surrounding the uterus and rectum.
The physician removed approximately 10 inches of the colon, and it was necessary to outfit Mrs. Blades with a colostomy due to the severity of her condition. Undoubtedly, the procedure saved her life. But it was some time before she felt grateful to be alive.
“I was in the hospital for about a week,” Mrs. Blades relates, “but the recovery period was much longer. I was in great pain, and no pain medication, for almost a month.”
Eventually Mrs. Blades recovered from the surgery, and she came to realize that she was going to survive… without pain. But functioning as she once did was still very difficult with a colostomy. She was hesitant to appear in public – even to go to the grocery store – because the colostomy pouch was difficult to get used to, and for fear that it may leak.
“I never asked my husband for help,” she explains. “It was something I would have to live with, and I wanted to do it myself.” With great determination, she achieved a degree of independence through sometimes unpleasant circumstances.
When Dr. Leggett approached the patient about the possibility of reversing the procedure – which would mean living without the colostomy pouch – Mrs. Blades responded with mixed emotions.
“All I remembered was a lot of pain,” recalls Mrs. Blades of the recovery from the first procedure. But Mrs. Blades relied on her trust in Dr. Leggett – she was originally a patient of Dr. Leggett’s father who retired a few years ago. She has known Dr. Leggett for seventeen years.
Dr. Leggett described to Mrs. Blades an innovative new procedure using a laparoscope – a tiny camera that allows the surgeon to see inside the body – that would reverse the colostomy and restore normal bowel function. This less invasive method would cause less pain and a shorter period of convalescence.
“We couldn’t reconnect the bowel during the first operation because there was too much infection,” Dr. Leggett explains. “But that operation made Mrs. Blades an ideal candidate for a new procedure that requires only tiny one-half inch incisions for inserting the laparoscope and other instruments.”
“Because we are not cutting through the muscle wall, recovery time is greatly reduced,” Dr. Leggett continued. “Mrs. Blades agreed that the procedure would restore a more normal lifestyle, and she was hopeful for a less painful recovery period.” So in mid-November Dr. Leggett again operated on Mrs. Blades at Parkway Hospital, performing the first laparoscopic colostomy reversal in the Houston area.
Dr. Leggett has preformed many other laparoscopic procedures, and with his extensive background in colon surgery, the new method was a natural transition. To date he has performed three such colostomy reversals, and all patients have experienced rapid recoveries thanks to the non-invasive laparoscope.
One short week after her surgery, Mrs. Blades described her condition following surgery. “There was a small amount of pain, for a very short time,” she allowed, “ but it was nothing compared to the first time …it took me four weeks to even decide to go out of the house.”
“I remember her first post-op visit, she came in her pajamas.” Dr. Leggett added, “Now as you can see she has on a dress, makeup, and most importantly, a smile!”
Mrs. Blades was in the hospital for only three days following surgery. The most striking difference about her quick recovery was that she was up and about, doing things for herself, the day after she got home.
According to Arthur Blades, Mrs. Blades’ husband he is glad to get back the "old" Aurora.
“She literally has a new outlook on life,” he said. “It is nice to see her really smile again. The people at Parkway have been really good to us, and we especially want to thank Dr. Leggett.”
Mrs. Blades enjoyed the holiday season with her daughter Susie and one-year old granddaughter Randi Christine (“Chrissy”) more than she thought possible. Her recovery is complete, and she now has the energy to keep up with the active toddler, who she takes care of during weekdays.
“Chrissy is an important part of my life.” Mrs. Blades professes, “and I am much more a part of her life than I once thought possible.”
Mrs. Blades also has a special message for others with her condition. “Seek treatment without fear,” she insists. If you are fortunate enough to receive the excellent care that I received, then you will be a winner like me.”
Dr. Phillip L. Leggett is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and has extensive experience in conventional and laparoscopic surgery.