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Life-threatening Pancreatitis Treated Without Incisions

Posted by Sarah Cohen on Dec 3, 2015 7:59:10 AM

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This past summer, Jada Watters and her family took a trip to San Antonio. In August, she got to meet her newest grandbaby. This December, she’s celebrating her 60th birthday.

But earlier this year, she didn’t think she’d live to enjoy any of these memorable moments.

Her health troubles began one January afternoon with sudden vomiting.

“I kept getting weaker, to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sit up,” she says.

Jada was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, where she was diagnosed with pancreatitis.  Hospitalized for weeks, all she remembers is the pain.  

“My family told me that I was asking God to take me, I was in so much pain,” she says.

Fortunately, she was transferred from her local hospital to Methodist Dallas Medical Center, the first hospital in the nation accredited by The Joint Commission for pancreatic surgery and home to the new Methodist Interventional Endoscopy Center of Excellence.

“When Jada got to us, she was very sick,” says Prashant Kedia, MD, gastroenterologist and medical director of interventional endoscopy for the Methodist Digestive Institute. “She had a massive fluid collection in her abdomen. It was 15 to 20 centimeters of both solid and liquid infected material. She was at risk for developing severe sepsis and organ failure.”

A plan for healing

The job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes that help digest food. However, Jada’s pancreas was inflamed and its main duct was injured, causing dead cell fluid and tissue to collect in and around the pancreas.

Thanks to endoscopy, all of Jada’s treatment was able to be done in a minimally invasive way and without surgical incisions.

Endoscopy involves guiding a thin tube with a camera attached to the end through the GI tract. Other tools can follow and be used to repair tears in the intestinal lining, remove tumors, and much more.

In Jada’s case, endoscopy helped in three ways:

  1. Nutrition. Placing a feeding tube endoscopically offered Jada much-needed nourishment and was safer than IV nutrition, avoiding further irritating Jada’s pancreas while it was healing.

  2. Exploration. The endoscope evaluated her pancreatic duct, checked for leaks, and, had they been needed, could have made repairs to prevent further leakage.

  3. Pancreatic necrosectomy. Methodist Dallas is the first hospital in Dallas–Fort Worth to offer this procedure through a U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved lumen-apposing metal stent. It involves placing a metal stent through the wall of the stomach to help the fluid drain out through the stomach and normal digestion. For Jada, the endoscope was even passed through the stent to physically remove solid infected debris that couldn’t flow through the stent.

“In the past, patients would need some type of surgery to go in and remove that tissue, which has risk for complications,” Dr. Kedia says. “Fortunately, we could go through the stent with the endoscope. There are only a handful of pancreatic centers of excellence in the country that can handle this type of disease in a minimally invasive fashion, and we’re one of them.”

Care they could count on

Jada’s daughter Tasanlyn Clark said she was relieved to see her mother regain her health over the weeks in the hospital. “The doctors and nurses were just wonderful,” Tasanlyn says, noting how they monitored additional heart problems her mother was having, kept her diabetes under control, and helped her regain the almost 50 pounds she had lost to her illness. “My dad even remembers all of the nurses’ names. He felt like they were his family.”

Gordon Watters had taken a leave from work to be beside his wife, but he quickly grew to trust the nurses and doctors caring for her.

“It was joyous but also sad to actually leave the hospital,” he says. “I had watched these folks care for my wife. If I had to go somewhere, I’d say, ‘You take good care of my baby,’ and they did. I have a lot of good things to say about Methodist.”

Time to celebrate

Jada was amazed at how easy the endoscopic procedures were on her physically.

“There was no pain, and my throat wasn’t scratchy at all,” she says. “It was like they didn’t do anything. I asked Dr. Kedia, ‘Are you sure you went in there?’”

The proof is in Jada’s recovery. Months later, she still feels great.

“God is good,” Jada says. “I’m thankful to Methodist Dallas and all the doctors. I want to celebrate all the people who helped me. I’d like to celebrate them keeping me here.”

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Sarah Cohen
As the publication specialist/editor for Methodist Health System, Sarah Cohen enjoys getting to know our patients and telling their stories. She thrives on AP style and proper comma placement, and has been known to mentally edit the occasional billboard. Outside the office, you’ll find her on the tennis court, singing (pretty much anywhere), pursuing a certification in biblical studies though the University of Dallas, and perusing the photos of her adorable nephew on Facebook.

 

Topics: Wellness, Profiles

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