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At the top of his lungs

Michael BartmannMichael Bartmann was hoping for another uneventful CT scan. But a biopsy confirmed early stage lung cancer.

“It definitely stopped us in our tracks,” said Bartmann, who previously battled head and neck cancer. 

His doctor referred him to Nirmal Veeramachaneni, MD, general thoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital – and the only specialist in the region solely dedicated to the complex issues of the chest and esophagus, including lung cancer. Dr. Veeramachaneni joined the Mid-America Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons in July, enhancing and expanding the quality of care and clinical research of the hospital’s NCI-designated cancer program. 

Collaborative patient care

During that initial appointment, they discussed Bartmann’s treatment options and the multidisciplinary team, comprising a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, pulmonologist and radiologist, who would join Dr. Veeramachaneni to guide Bartmann’s care.

“The point is to make patient care as patient-centric as possible,” said Dr. Veeramachaneni. “That means we not only review patients’ cases together, we also evaluate patients together.”

Dr. Veeramachaneni is also bringing the latest minimally invasive techniques into play. He performed an endobronchial ultrasonographic biopsy to confirm the mass and then used video-assisted lobectomy to remove it.

In this technique, three 1-inch incisions provide access to the chest, without spreading the ribs. A small video camera, called a thorascope, guides the surgical instruments to help the surgeon remove the malignancy. Performed in fewer than 50 percent of lobectomies in the United States, the procedure significantly reduces the patient’s hospital stay and recovery time compared with a traditional, open-chest thoracotomy.

A month after his first consultation, Bartmann was free of lung cancer.

“I’ve been to numerous hospitals in various areas of the country,” he said. “This experience, this hospital stay, was the best.”