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NEW ENDOSCOPIC SURGICAL APPROACH MAKES POSSIBLE KIDNEY OPERATION ON YOUNGEST PATIENT EVER, UCLA SURGEON REPORTS

         NEW ENDOSCOPIC SURGICAL APPROACH MAKES POSSIBLE KIDNEY
        OPERATION ON YOUNGEST PATIENT EVER, UCLA SURGEON REPORTS
    LOS ANGELES, Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A three-year old boy was at home, "running around," back to his extremely active self less than a day after he had an enlarged kidney removed during a recent operation at the UCLA School of Medicine, according to his surgeon, Richard M. Ehrlich, M.D., clinical professor of surgery and urology.
    Under normal circumstances, the little boy -- the youngest laparoscopic nephrectomy (kidney removal) patient ever reported, according to Ehrlich -- should have required five days or more in the hospital to recover from the traumatic operation.  Instead, the little boy was discharged within 24 hours of the operation.
    Thanks to the skill of Ehrlich and his team, Drs. Gerhard Fuchs and Alex Gershman, and to a new surgical technology, the circumstances of the operation were anything but normal -- and, happily, very much in the little boy's favor.
    Ehrlich credits the little boy's rapid recovery to a new approach to kidney surgery, known as laparoscopy.  A conventional, or open, approach would have requires a long incision through layers of skin and muscle that would have resulted in a great deal of post-operative pain, lengthy (and costly) hospital stay, and increased risk for post-operative infection.
    The endoscopic approach, however, requires placement of only four to five tiny incisions in the abdomen.  Though small, the incisions are wide enough to permit insertion of miniaturized surgical instruments such as scissors, graspers, and clip appliers (used to help seal off blood vessels) and other devices.  The instruments, manufactured by ETHICON ENDO-SURGERY, a Cincinnati-based division of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), allow the surgeon to repair or remove damaged tissue or organs without opening the surgical site to view.  A miniaturized video camera, also placed through one of the tiny incisions, affords a detailed internal view.
    "I anticipated a rapid recovery, but both our staff and the patient's family were really surprised when we saw how quickly he bounced back from the operation," Ehrlich said.  "During my examination, only two days after the operation, he immediately began climbing all over me and the examination room," normal lively activities for a child that age.
    "The endoscopic approach to nephrectomy, as well as other surgical procedures normally done with a conventional approach, affords quicker recovery, greatly reduced level of postoperative pain, and a much shorter and less costly hospital stay," Ehrlich noted.
    The short endoscopic incisions are also much less visible than those that result from open procedures, an important cosmetic consideration in pediatric cases, Ehrlich said.
    Ehrlich also credits the laparoscopic surgery approach with the relatively short (two and a half hours) duration of the little boy's operation.
    The three-year old's recovery has been uneventful in the two weeks since the operation.  "The boy's family, the UCLA staff and myself could not be happier," Ehrlich said.
    Ehrlich is president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics/Urology section, and has contributed approximately 300 scientific articles, editorials and textbook chapters to the field, marking him as one of the leading urologic surgeons in the nation. Ehrlich is also a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    Johnson & Johnson is the world's largest and most comprehensive manufacturer of health care products.  Its ETHICON ENDO-SURGERY subsidiary provides surgeons an array of products including stapling and endoscopic products.
    -0-                            8/13/92
    /CONTACT:  Peter Steinerman of Ruder-Finn, 212-715-1677, for ETHICON ENDO-SURGERY/
    (JNJ) CO:  Ethicon Endo-Surgery; Johnson & Johnson ST:  California IN:  MTC SU: TM-SM -- NY001A -- 9504 08/13/92 09:40 EDT
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Date:Aug 13, 1992
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