Andrew Speaker, the American lawyer from Atlanta who traveled to, from and within Europe on commercial airlines while infected with drug-resistant TB earlier this year, had surgery yesterday to remove infected lung tissue.
Speaker’s operation was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. Leading surgeon was John D. Mitchell, chief of general thoracic surgery at the hospital.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and senior medical correspondent for CNN watched the operation and said everyone who observed the operation as well as the medical team had to wear special air-tight masks to avoid infection.
Mitchell used a minimally invasive approach called video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), where small holes are made in the side of the chest through which the surgeon inserts a fiber-optic camera and surgical instruments. VATS patients have less pain and recover more quickly than those who undergo a standard thoracotomy where a larger incision is made and the ribs are spread.
The surgery is expected to maximize Speaker’s chances of a full recovery by removing most of the TB bacteria in his lungs and leaving behind only a minute amount that can be killed by medication.