Published on March 16, 2018

Skilled Surgeons and Advanced Robotics Better Together for Davenport Man

David Degan runs on the bike path

The first time David DeGan noticed blood in his urine he suspected cancer. However, bladder stones can also be a cause for the blood and that was the diagnosis.

Three years later with same symptom, DeGan suspected he had more stones. Further testing revealed something different and more serious.

“I think we all suspected more stones but they checked me out. The doctor came into the room with his chin kind of hanging down and I’m thinking, ‘this isn’t gonna be good.’’’

On Feb. 3, 2017 DeGan’s cancerous bladder was removed.

Looking back, he learned he was at high risk for the diagnosis. He smoked for 46 years before quitting 10 years ago. He also had a family history of bladder cancer and he was past age 60.

All of those factors placed him at higher risk. His history of smoking increased his risk of bladder cancer 4 to 7 times the rate of bladder cancer among non-smokers.

DeGan, a detail-oriented person who is a manager in the electrical maintenance department at Rock Island Arsenal, started doing his own research about bladder cancer.

He learned about bladder removal using robotic surgical systems.

“I liked the idea of the robotic surgery. It was considered to be less invasive and recovery was quicker,’’ DeGan explained.

Robotic Procedures

David Degam takes a break after a good runAnd, it was available locally.

Dr. Tim Kresowik of Urological Associates is one of 16 surgeons at Genesis with years of experience using the da Vinci Robotic Surgery Systems available at Genesis Medical Center, Davenport. Genesis has two da Vinci systems, including the region’s most advanced; the da Vinci Xi.

DeGan had two surgeries in one extended procedure. His prostate, which had been bothering him, was removed.

“I had terrible prostate issues. I’m a runner and I run races. When I ran a race I had to know where the restrooms were because if there was a line, I would have to go and I might not make it,’’ he said. “I always had this urge to go and I had already just gone.’’

DeGan said the surgery was over so quickly he was confused about whether anything had been done when he awoke from anesthesia.

During a bladder removal (cystectomy), Kesowik guides surgical arms from a console while viewing the procedure on a monitor in front of him. The surgical instruments extending from the arms are moved through multiple, small incisions in the patient’s abdomen to remove the bladder.

“The benefits of robotic surgery include a shorter recovery time, less pain and less blood loss,’’ Kresowik said. “Cystectomy is a major surgery with significant morbidity risk but we are able to reduce that risk with robotic surgery.’’

Kresowik said Genesis is performing more robotic cystectomies than any hospital in Iowa.

DeGan had the surgery on a Friday and was ready to go home for additional recovery by Monday. Kresowik said an average hospital stay can be five days or longer after a cystectomy.

“By the evening of the same day I had the surgery I had very little pain. It wasn’t bothering me at all. I think everyone was amazed that I wasn’t in more pain,’’ he said. “The pain relief I had available wasn’t that strong and I didn’t even need it.

No Regrets About Robotic Approach

After the bladder is removed, a new urine collection system is necessary. DeGan says his pouch collects inconspicuously on his body and can be emptied easily.

“Considering the bladder cancer and prostate issues I was having, I’m glad I did this and would recommend it. I would also tell people not to be worried about the stoma (urine collection),’’ DeGan said.

DeGan will be 69 years old in June. He is still working and still running 3 to 5 miles every morning before going to work.

“I’m definitely a fan of the robotic surgery. It took a while to build my strength back up but six weeks after surgery I was running 3-5 miles a day again,’’ he said.

For information about robotic surgery options available at Genesis, go to www.genesishealth.com/robotic.

Genesis Robotic Surgery Program Highlights

  • Surgeons – 16
  • Technology – da Vinci Xi is the area’s most advanced robotic surgical technology
  • Surgeries performed – More than 2,000
  • Urological surgeries available – Prostate Cancer; Urinary Tract Conditions; Urinary Bladder Removal; Ureteral Reimplantation; Pelvic Prolapse; Kidney, Ureter and Bladder Cuff removal.
  • General surgeries available – Hernia Repair; Single-incision Gallbladder Removal; Spleen Removal; Reflux Surgery; Colon, Rectal and Anal Surgery.
  • Women’s Health surgeries available – Hysterectomy; Uterine Prolapse; Fibroid Surgery.

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