Burlington, MA (April 4, 2016) – It didn’t hit him right away, but as the days and weeks advanced, Jeff Hillier became more anxious about his upcoming surgery. The retired Exeter public school teacher likes to stay active – whether it’s riding his bike to the beach or taking a walk around the block.
But when he was told he might be laid up for six to eight weeks after surgery, missing the entire summer, he became worried. If it wasn’t for a five minute conversation with his neighbor, Hillier might have ended up losing nearly a foot of his intestines.
The North Hampton resident has been pretty good with getting regular colonoscopies, so the announcement that he would need surgery came as a surprise.
“The doctor clipped off a couple of polyps, but there was one she couldn’t remove without risk of cutting through the intestinal wall,” he said.
According to research, one in six people in the US develops polyps, while one in 19 people develop colon cancer. Researchers believe that every colon cancer starts as a polyp, so removal is essential.
“My wife kept telling me I should get a second opinion, but I just thought, ‘well this is just a procedure I need to have done,’” Hillier said. “I didn’t think there would be any other options for me.”
So, Hillier’s wife, Linda, undeterred by her husband’s stubbornness, spoke with their neighbor about Jeff’s upcoming surgery.
That’s when the Hillier’s heard about Peter Marcello, MD Chair of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.
“He was my neighbor’s colon doctor and he said if there was anyone who could help me, it would be Dr. Marcello,” Hillier said.
Two days later Hillier was meeting with Dr. Marcello.
“I walked into his office, and Dr. Marcello looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think you need this surgery,’” Hillier said. “I was stunned, I couldn’t believe it. I just kept thinking, ‘thank you Linda for getting me down here.’”
Dr. Marcello and his colleagues perform an advanced polyp removal procedure called endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD). This minimally invasive procedure allows patients to retain their entire colon, in contrast to colon resection – the standard treatment offered in the majority of cases.
“The technique was developed in Japan to treat large stomach polyps, as gastric cancers are quite prevalent there,” Dr. Marcello said. “The technique evolved to allow removal of the colon polyps despite having a much thinner wall… It essentially uses a knife blade through the end of an endoscope to remove the polyp.”
Dr. Marcello studied in Japan and practiced on models to master the technique. He then began teaching this procedure to his colleagues at Lahey, as well as to physicians across the country.
“The important thing is that the polyp is completely removed in one piece, and the patient never needs to undergo another procedure. If need be the patient can then move onto a combine surgical/endoscopic procedure and in only 10% of cases is a colon resection needed,” Dr. Marcello said. “And we can get it all done in one session with one prep.”
A few hours after the procedure, Hillier was back at home and by the end of the week, he was back riding his bike to the beach.
About Lahey Health
Lahey Health is what's next in health care, providing a full continuum of integrated health services close to where you live or work. It is comprised of nationally recognized, award-winning hospitals—including an academic hospital and medical center, and community hospitals—primary care providers, specialist physicians, behavioral health services, post-acute programs such as home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and senior care resources located throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.
Lahey Health offers nearly 1,400 locally based physicians providing clinical excellence and an exceptional patient experience in adult and pediatric primary care and every medical specialty, including kidney and liver transplantation; cancer, cardiovascular and orthopedic medical and surgical care; local emergency and trauma care; urological surgery; chronic disease prevention and health management; and pediatric emergency, newborn and inpatient care provided in collaboration with Boston Children's Hospital physicians.
Lahey Health includes Lahey Hospital & Medical Center—a teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine—and Lahey Clinic physician group with practices in Burlington, Peabody and other locations throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire; Beverly Hospital; Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Mass.; Lahey Health Senior Care and Lahey Health Behavioral Services as well as more than 30 primary care physician practices and multiple outpatient and satellite specialty care facilities.
Together, we are making innovative, integrated healthcare more personal and more accessible. For more information, visit LaheyHealth.org and its member websites Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Beverly Hospital, and Lahey Health Behavioral Services.