Robotic Surgery Ends Isolation for New Jersey Senior   

Robotic Surgery Ends Isolation for New Jersey Senior

Joan Peck and friends playing cards

When Joan Peck was diagnosed with a kidney obstruction, doctors at the first hospital she went to told her she was too old for surgery and would need to live with a stent that would have to be replaced regularly for the rest of her life. That would come with unpleasant side effects that curtailed her participation in the activities she loved.

“When I had the stent in, I had no control over my bladder and had to wear incontinence products. Then when I had the catheter in, I had the bag hanging off me and that wasn’t pleasant either,” Joan says. “Plus, I kept getting urinary tract infections that were so bad I ended up in the hospital four times.”

Joan tried to keep participating with the German choral group she has been in for more than 20 years and engage in her previously active family and social life, but it was difficult to maintain.

“It was very isolating not being able to do things,” says Joan, who is now 83. “My energy is pretty good for my age, and I like to be busy; I get bored and tired when I’m not.”

Relief From Infection and Discomfort

After a few lonely and frustrating months, she sought out a second opinion from urologist Michael Lasser, M.D., director of robotic surgery at JFK University Medical Center, who had previously treated her husband. “I felt really alone because the first doctor didn’t want to help me. But I knew Dr. Lasser would, and the care he gave me was wonderful,” says Joan.

Dr. Lasser determined that Joan had fibrotic scarring with kinking of the ureter, the tube that leads from the kidney to the bladder. “It’s hard to say how this happened,” he says, although he suspects the obstruction was caused by an infection or trauma not long before her first visit to an emergency department for severe, recurring pain on her left side. A passed kidney stone and/or congenital crimp in Joan’s ureter may have also been factors.

A Good Candidate for Surgery 

Most importantly, Dr. Lasser’s assessment showed Joan was a good candidate for surgical repair, despite her age. He performed a robotic dismembered pyeloplasty in August 2021, in which he separated the ureter from the kidney, repaired the blockage and put it back together. 

Joan describes the minimally invasive surgery as “remarkable,” reporting just a little discomfort but no pain during her recovery. The surgery was a success.

“Joan was miserable with the stent because of its side effects. Once we were able to fix the obstruction and remove the stent, all those symptoms went away,” Dr. Lasser says. “I last saw her in July 2022, and she was doing well. The repeat ultrasound found that the obstruction was gone and she was doing great.”

Adds Joan: “Dr. Lasser gave me back my life. My family comes every Friday night for dinner, I go to concerts, go out to dinner or lunch, and play cards a few times a week at the senior community clubhouse. Everything is normal again. I have my bladder control back and no more pain.”

Next Steps & Resources:

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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