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First-ever procedure in the world saves life of cheerleader

First-ever procedure in the world saves life of cheerleader
Posted at 8:29 AM, Sep 01, 2017

A New Orleans doctor is being praised for saving the life of a young cheerleader with a revolutionary robotic surgery.

A few years ago, 14-year-old Alexis Resendez started complaining of a sore neck. Her mother, Brandi Resendez, thought it might be a pulled muscle from the extra work Alexis was putting into preparing for high school cheerleading tryouts. However, Alexis’ pain continued to get worse and Brandi new something was wrong.

“Alexis started to lose weight because it hurt to swallow – at times she would even choke on water,” Brandi said. “She would tell me she was exhausted all the time, which was completely unlike her.”

A trip to the emergency room revealed a mass in Alexis' neck and chest near her thyroid gland. She was referred to Dr. Emad Kandil, a specialist in robotic endocrine surgery and a teaching faculty member at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Kandil is a pioneer in performing thyroidectomy and thymectomy using a robotic surgical system that provides a detailed 3-D magnified view of the anatomy around the glands, enabling him to perform precise surgery through a single incision. Using this minimally invasive approach, patients heal faster, and many are able to go home the same day.

In Alexis' case, Kandil was able to use robotic thymectomy to remove the tumor from her thymus gland. He did it through a hidden incision under the armpit.

“This is the first time that a robotic thymectomy was performed using a single hidden incision under the arm,” said Kandil. Other robotic thymectomies are performed through incisions through the chest between the ribs which can be painful and requires special care of the lungs during the surgery.

“When Dr. Kandil came in that waiting area and told me he was able to remove the whole mass, I remember jumping up and hugging him," Brandi said. Alexis went home the following day. A month later, the teen was back to tumbling and, shortly after that, she tried out for the cheerleading squad. She made the team.

"Alexis is like a whole different kid," Brandi said.