Robot-assisted surgery provides relief for hernia patient

TROY — Jim Crofoot put up with pain in his lower abdomen for much of last year before finally having enough.

He found himself compensating to try to avoid pain, wearing an elastic belt and kneeling instead of bending over to complete certain tasks.

“I did not have a sudden injury. It was just over time I was able to do less and less without pain. It is funny because I would hurt and put on a compression truss while doing outside work,” he recalled. “The first part of November, I was unable to stand up for more than 15 minutes or so without getting that truss out. I had never had an injury where it hurt, and you pressed on it and made it feel better.”

Then one day, he didn’t even think he wanted to get out of bed. His wife intervened. “She said, ‘Yes you do, because you are going to urgent care.’”

The Tipp City resident visited a local urgent care where the physician told him he appeared to have an inguinal hernia on the right side. Crofoot was given a referral to Miami County Surgeons. Meanwhile, he was told to continue to wear the elastic belt.

He soon had an appointment with Dan Taylor, MD, whose examination found Crofoot indeed had a hernia.

“A hernia is a hole in the abdomen. We like to fix it if it hurts or if we are concerned about something being stuck in the hole,” Taylor said.

Most hernia repairs today are done using laparoscopic surgery utilizing a robot, he said.

That method is preferred to the traditional surgery involving a larger incision because it is less invasive, results in faster recovery time, and patients report less discomfort post-surgery, Taylor said.

Use of the robot also allows the surgeon to see both sides of the abdomen, he said.

“The analogy I usually make is if this room is our abdomen, a hernia is a hole in the ceiling. We used to come in through the roof to fix the ceiling. Now we come in the side door and patch the ceiling from the inside,” Taylor said.

The surgeon said he usually tells patients he doesn’t necessarily like the term “robot” because it can be misleading.

“I tell them it is not a robot operating on you, it is me operating on you. I don’t want people to think I type in commands and drink coffee while it does the surgery,” Taylor said.

On the day of surgery Crofoot arrived in the morning and by 2 p.m. was home relaxing on the couch, he said, only “because it had been suggested that I take it easy for the rest of the day.”

The next day, he had his morning coffee and was ready to roll. He followed the required weight limitations. At his two-week follow up, he was given fewer restrictions and told there was no need to return unless he experienced issues.

There was no need to return, Crofoot said, adding he was more than pleased with his care and surgery.

“From the person at the door, until the person at the door on the way out, it was just wonderful,” he said of the care at Miami County Surgeons and Upper Valley Medical Center.

He and wife, Lyn, have lived in the Tipp City area for 16 years. A retired engineer, he enjoys walking, fishing and, along with Lyn, is an avid gardener.

His advice to others who suspect they have a hernia?

“Definitely don’t wait. Don’t fear the laparoscopic surgery. That is a piece of cake,” he said. “I am kicking myself that I waited so long.”

To learn more about hernia treatment options and robot-assisted surgery, contact Miami County Surgeons at 937-332-8777 or visit premierhealth.com/services/general-surgery.