Fall River Health Services Provides Minimally Invasive Surgery Options to the Area

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. – For a rural area like Hot Springs, offering minimally invasive surgeries in town can make tough times much easier. Fall River Health Services offers a wide variety of services to patients, including general surgery. Dr. Patrick J. Kenney, D.O., FACS, is a Board Certified General Surgeon with over 15 years of experience. As a general surgeon, Dr. Kenney says he operates on the skin and all of its contents.

“Basically, we do everything within reason. It could be as straightforward as removing a mole on somebody or a soft tissue mass such as a lipoma. And then you get into bigger things like removing parts of the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladders, or operating on patients with appendicitis. It can go beyond that to endocrine surgery, so that includes operating on the thyroid, in the parathyroid gland in the neck, and some vascular surgery. Some general surgeons still do vascular surgery. Some general surgeons still do thoracic surgery, but not all of us do that. So general surgery actually encompasses a lot, we do almost everything, with few exceptions like brain surgery, heart surgery, orthopedics, and ophthalmology,” says Dr. Kenney.

While most surgeries used to be fairly invasive with long recovery periods, advancements in medicine have made minimally invasive surgery the norm. Prior to the rise in popularity of laparoscopic surgery 40 years ago, surgeons had to make large incisions for any type of abdominal surgery. Today, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery is much more common than open surgery.

Dr. Kenney explains that minimally invasive surgery involves making small incisions. “Surgeons are all trained in minimally invasive surgery where you’re making several small incisions into someone’s abdomen and placing hollow tubes through the incisions that you’ve made. Then we add carbon dioxide gas to the abdomen. You use that gas pressure on the inside so that you can see things and use instruments that go through the tubes that you placed through your incision so that you’re only making three or four small incisions instead of one large incision.”

With laparoscopic surgery, people recover much more quickly than with open surgery – patients are often able to go home on the same day as surgery, whereas open surgery would require a four or five-day stay at the hospital. Even for more complex surgeries, like colon surgery or surgery for someone with multiple medical issues, patients can usually go home within one to two days, says Dr. Kenney.

The most common surgery in rural South Dakota is on hernias. A hernia can occur when a body part or internal organ pushes through the external wall of muscle and tissue. Dr. Kenney notes that there are all kinds of hernias that he operates on – groin, ventral to name a few. A gallbladder removal is probably the second most common surgery next to hernia repairs.

Of course, hernias aren’t the only type of surgery that the clinic offers. Dr. Kenney has a particular interest in breast surgeries for early-stage breast cancer patients. With a family history of breast cancer, he also started a breast care center at a previous facility. Additionally, Dr. Kenney has an interest and history in robotic surgery, which boasts the same advantages of laparoscopic surgery, but with a few more benefits. Although Fall River Health Center does not currently offer robotic surgery, it may consider adding it in the future if the demand exists.

While previous surgeons in the area preferred doing more open surgeries, residents can now take advantage of minimally invasive surgeries so they can get back to their lives sooner. “There are fewer complications with it. Get back to work sooner. There’s less pain, like with groin hernia patients. When I fix their groin hernia, they go home without narcotics on the same day. That’s a big deal – having to take a narcotic pill for three or four days after surgery due to pain adds to your recovery time. You just recover a heck of a lot quicker from minimally invasive surgery. To be able to do that here in Fall River, it’s a great advantage to the patients and there’s a lot of surgeries that can be done there,” says Dr. Kenney.

For more information about the surgery options available at Fall River Health Services, please visit https://www.frhssd.org/.


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