TMC’s Robotic Nephrectomy Brings Quick Recovery


via The Medical City | When a mass in her left kidney was detected by an ultrasound, Patient Partner Marivic Niel was given two options — to have it removed via open surgery or a robot-assisted nephrectomy. With all its beauty and advantages, Marvin opted for the latter option and she has since been a picture of a healthy and happy career woman.

Read her amazing story and her robot-assisted surgery journey:

Guam-based businesswoman Marivic Niel advocates regular preventive health care strategies including at least an annual executive checkup and adopting a healthy lifestyle. She believes that it is one excellent way to keep track of her health and life.

Regular periodical health exams and tests are essential to track your health condition. These can help rule out problems, detect them at an early stage, and prevent them from worsening through proper medical treatment.

Marivic has heard a number of stories about people who were caught by surprise and discovered that they had a serious disease after undergoing an executive checkup. She never thought that one day she would share the same sentiment, after going through a diagnostic procedure which was included in her health care package.

“It was in October 2012 when I flew from Guam to Manila to undergo an executive checkup, which I normally do every year, and stay afterwards to spend time with my family,” said the 47-year-old Marivic.

Her ultrasound result showed a solid structured/ mass in her left kidney which warranted an immediate consult with a Urologist. She then went to see a specialist from another institution but she still sought a second opinion. Marivic’s sister, who works as a nurse at The Medical City, referred her to Dr. Julius Cajucom.

Due to her busy work schedule, Marivic was only able to see Dr. Cajucom in November 2012. He recommended a repeat CT scan which confirmed the mass in Marivic’s left kidney.

“Dr. Cajucom said ‘We detected a formation of solid mass in your left kidney which could possibly be malignant or cancerous. You need to undergo nephrectomy procedure to remove your left kidney.’ I wanted to cry upon learning about it. Cancer is one word we are all afraid of,” said Marivic.

Marivic was however grateful that Dr. Cajucom was able to explain everything she needed to know about her condition. He presented two options to address it, traditional or open surgery and robot-assisted nephrectomy.

When surgeons remove only the tumor and leave the healthy portion of the kidney, it is called a partial nephrectomy. In a radical nephrectomy, the surgeon removes the entire kidney, including the surrounding fatty tissues and a portion of the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder (ureter).

In an open nephrectomy, the surgeon makes a cut (incision) along the side or on the abdomen. The surgeon may need to remove a lower rib to gain better access to the kidney.

On the other hand, a robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery uses a robotic system to perform the procedure. Robotic tools require very small incisions, provide better imaging of the procedure and enable precise removal of diseased tissue.

After a careful study of the options presented to her, Marivic opted to undergo robot-assisted nephrectomy.

“Since I am managing a business, I could not afford to take a leave from work for two or more months. I wanted faster recovery so I chose Robotic surgery,” said Marivic.

She had a successful procedure performed by Dr. Cajucom on December 6, 2012 at The Medical City. Marivic was confident of the positive turnout since she knew that Dr. Cajucom is a highly-skilled robotic surgeon.

Dr. Cajucom is the head of The Medical City Robotic Surgery Program and is one of the few surgeons in the Philippines certified to perform robotic surgeries. In fact, he and several other surgeons from TMC form the most experienced group of Filipino robotic surgeons to date.

“I couldn’t help but compare Robotic surgery with the open surgery which I had for my myomectomy several years ago. This time, there was minimal pain. I didn’t even ask for a pain reliever. And I was discharged four days after the procedure which allowed me more time to spend with my family before I returned to Guam,” related Marivic.

The diagnosis was stage 1 Renal Cancer. And with that, there was no need for her to undergo any other adjuvant therapy because the tumor was detected at an early stage.

To date, Marivic is a picture of a happy and healthy career woman. She visits Dr. Cajucom every year for monitoring and checkups. Since her robot-assisted surgery almost four years ago, Marivic has been to a lot of places.

Aside from her regular health checks, Marivic also commits to healthy eating habits and regular exercise. She also shares her story to her family and friends and encourages them to take good care of their kidneys and their health in general.

“It takes courage, determination, will, discipline, and faith to be able to overcome challenges like mine. But most of all, it takes love and support from my loved ones for me to stand up, keep going and never give up on life. Looking back, I could say that it was a tough journey, and I am glad I survived it,” Marivic concluded.