Red Bank Doctor Successfully Removes Gallbladders of Sisters Months Apart   

Red Bank Doctor Successfully Removes Gallbladders of Sisters Months Apart

Kayce Ketchow and her two daughters
When Kayce Ketchow, from Middletown, New Jersey, was a teenager, she had near-constant heartburn. The now 44-year-old mother of three girls saw several doctors, all of whom blamed either hiatal hernia or irritable bowel syndrome. 
When Kayce turned 18, she started with a new doctor, who found something troubling in her bloodwork: Her liver enzymes were through the roof. An ultrasound showed that her gallbladder was covered with stones. Kayce had her gallbladder removed and assumed that was the end of the story.

Discovering a Hereditary Issue 

Fast forward about 25 years, when Kayce’s 15-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, began to experience pain. “She’d come off the ice after playing hockey and say that it felt like someone was stabbing her in the stomach and back,” Kayce says. “It suddenly hit me—maybe she had gallbladder issues like I had when I was her age.”
Kayce and Mackenzie were referred to David Dupree, M.D., chairman of the Department of Surgery at Riverview Medical Center. “Mackenzie had no stones, but an ultrasound showed she has what’s called gallbladder sludge,” Dr. Dupree says. “Normally, when the gallbladder contracts, it shoots thin, watery bile down to the intestine. But if you have sludge, it’s syrupy and thick, so when the gallbladder tries to contract, it’s squeezing on the sludge and can cause a significant amount of pain.”
Dr. Dupree told Kayce that about 25 percent of gallbladder disease is hereditary, and it's twice as common in females compared to males—and that Mackenzie’s gallbladder had to come out.
Kayce was nervous, but Dr. Dupree helped put her mind at ease. An added bonus: Dr. Dupree and Mackenzie have a common interest. “A big portion of my life involves ice hockey. I love to play it, watch it and talk about it, so we hit it off right away,” he says.
For Mackenzie’s surgery, Dr. Dupree used robot assistance, which dramatically improves visualization, precision and control. “We can make small incisions, which improves healing time and eases pain,” Dr. Dupree says. The robot allows the surgeon to use a special dye with a camera to zero in on the proper ducts so they don’t damage the main bile duct, which is one of the main risks when removing the gallbladder. 

Third Time’s a Charm

Just as Mackenzie recovered from surgery, another Ketchow had an attack. Three months after Mackenzie’s surgery, Kayce’s 14-year-old daughter, Sydney, woke up in the middle of the night. “She called me from her bedroom because she couldn’t get up,” Kayce says. “I assumed her appendix had burst because she was thrashing around in so much pain.” 

Right away, Kayce drove Sydney to Riverview, where doctors were able to get Sydney’s pain under control. Dr. Dupree saw her the next day. “When I saw the ultrasound, I could see the stones. It looked like little pearls all over her gallbladder,” Kayce says. “I knew she too had to have her gallbladder removed.”
A week later, Sydney was in surgery with Dr. Dupree, and today she is doing remarkably well. “I was so enamored with Dr. Dupree and the team the first time, there was no question that they were going to do the surgery this time as well,” Kayce says.

Next Steps & Resources:

  • Meet our source: David Dupree, M.D.
  • To make an appointment with Dr. Dupree or a surgeon near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
  • Learn more about robotic surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health

    The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care. 


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