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Advanced Robotic Surgery to the Rescue

Thursday, June 07, 2018 7:49 AM

Rarely would anyone be grateful for an attack of diverticulitis, a severe infection or inflammation in the colon. But for Loryn Todd of Mundelein, the condition incidentally led to the discovery of another, much more dangerous medical condition—and likely saved her life.


A CT scan to assess her colon also revealed a mass on Todd’s pancreas. Not wasting a minute, her independent primary care physician Lynn Piest, MD, sent her to NorthShore’s Mark Talamonti, MD, the Stanton and Margaret Rogers Palmer Chair of Surgery, renowned for his expertise in pancreatic cancer and advanced laparoscopic and robotic surgery.

Confidence in her Care
The 58-year-old Todd initially braced for the worst. But from the moment she met with Dr. Talamonti she knew she was in good hands.

“He’s so thorough in his explanation and it made me completely confident that he knew the best way to handle this,” recalled Todd.

Dr. Talamonti immediately connected her to NorthShore colleague, an interventional gastroenterologist who specializes in advanced endoscopy. The doctor performed an endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy of the pancreatic mass, which confirmed a potentially cancerous neuroendocrine tumor that had to be removed.

Greater Precision, Quicker Recovery
Dr. Talamonti is one of only two Chicagoland surgeons to complete a very rigorous training program in advanced hepatobiliary and pancreas robotic surgery. He put his surgical prowess to work for Todd, making tiny incisions in the robot-assisted, minimally invasive procedure.

“The latest technology at NorthShore supported the precise removal of a portion of Loryn’s pancreas and preserved her spleen,” explained Dr. Talamonti. “It’s something that would not have been possible even a few years ago with traditional surgery. This sophisticated procedure also means far faster recovery time and fewer complications for patients.”

“I went back to work in three weeks,” exclaimed Todd, who has enjoyed a 23-year career in corporate finance.

While robotic technology has been used in surgery for more than a decade, only in the last few years has it been applied to complex cases like pancreas and liver tumors, added Dr. Talamonti. The technology also offers the surgeon better control and dexterity, as well as improved optics with a 3-D camera and stronger magnification.

Focus on Exceptional Results
“Our multidisciplinary team approach to patient care is so important here and we’re all focused on providing the best outcomes possible,” said her doctor, who along with Dr. Talamonti, holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Although cancer has taken a toll on Todd’s family through the years, she is incredibly positive about her future. “I’ve decided life is short and you never know what’s going to happen next. Gloom and doom isn’t going to get you anywhere,” remarked Todd. “I’m looking forward to the future and am so grateful for my care. The whole team is like super heroes, but Dr. Talamonti really is my hero!”