Minnesota Resident Travels to UC for Unique Robotic Surgery

On a snowy evening in December 2010, Nancy Bemis, a New Market, Minnesota resident, woke up to a scary gastrointestinal bleed that led to a trip to the emergency room at a small community hospital.

“They did an abdominal CT scan as part at of a workup to try to find the cause of the bleeding, and the radiologist found a pancreatic cyst,” she says. “Several days later, I was transferred to the Mayo Clinic for further evaluation and treatment.”

Bemis says an endoscopic ultrasound was performed and the physician determined that her cyst did not appear to be malignant, and it should be watched. After being followed by a gastroenterologist for a year, a repeat CT scan was performed, and her physician alerted her that the cyst had increased in size.

“I was referred to another gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic who said that I could continue with active surveillance or opt for surgery. The surgeon would attempt laparoscopic surgery to remove part of the pancreas and my spleen with the possibility of having to undergo abdominal surgery,” she says.

Bemis decided to seek a second opinion at UC Health as her husband is an alumnus of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and residency program.

“We had another endoscopic ultrasound done at UC Health and found that Dr. (Syed) Ahmad could robotically remove part of my pancreas and likely save my spleen.”

Ahmad, a member of the UC Cancer Institute, a professor in the department of surgery and a UC Health surgical oncologist, performed the intricate robotic surgery along with Tayyab Diwan, MD, a transplant surgeon that specializes in laparoscopic surgery. The Mayo Clinic did not offer this procedure.

“We made the trip to Cincinnati from Minnesota in May of 2012, and I had the procedure done on a Friday,” she says. “By Monday, I didn’t even need pain medicine, and by the following Friday, I was on my way back home. I had to remind myself I actually had surgery.

“I have nothing but positive things to say about Dr. Ahmad and UC Health—my care, the team and the communication with my husband and me was excellent. It was definitely worth the travel.”

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