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Ryan's Story: A tailored treatment plan

04/05/2018

Ryan typically spends his summer like a lot of us in the Boston area: heading to the beach, hanging with friends and his fiancé, and enjoying getting outside in the amazing New England summer weather.

Searching for answers

Last year, much of Ryan’s summer was consumed by severe abdominal pain. “It felt like someone sticking a knife in you and slowly pulling it out,” Ryan described. “So I went to my primary care doctor and had some tests.” 

After a CT scan showed a possible growth in his abdomen, Ryan scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist near his home in Chelmsford. Additional testing was done, but the results were inconclusive and it was not clear what was causing his symptoms. After a recommendation from that specialist, Ryan drove to Boston to meet with Tufts Medical Center Chief of Colon and Rectal Surgery James Yoo, MD.

Although Ryan did not yet have a diagnosis, Dr. Yoo met with Ryan to learn more about his symptoms. “Ryan knew something was wrong,” said Dr. Yoo. “He was so confident and never wavered. And I knew I had to find the answer.” During their visit, Dr. Yoo noticed that Ryan would wince and clinch his abdomen – showing physical signs of the pain that he was feeling. 

Because of the physical signs that Ryan was showing, Dr. Yoo scheduled Ryan for a repeat CT scan of his abdomen and pelvis that same day, and Ryan immediately came back to see Dr. Yoo to discuss the results. The scans revealed a small bowel mass that was causing a partial small bowel obstruction. 

A tailored treatment plan

After consulting with Ryan, Dr. Yoo determined that surgery was the best option to remove the mass and reduce Ryan’s pain. “That summer was busy for me – my fiancé and I had purchased a home and were in the process of moving in,” said Ryan. “But I was in a lot of pain and knew I needed surgery. Dr. Yoo moved his schedule around for me and did the procedure on a day he typically doesn’t, just so that it would fit into my schedule more easily.”

After laparoscopic surgery, Ryan recovered quickly and was discharged after spending one night in the hospital. After the mass was removed, Dr. Yoo was able to identify it as a small bowel lipoma, which is fatty tissue that tends to grow slowly and can be found in various parts of the body. Lipomas tend to be non-cancerous and fairly common, but because of its location in Ryan’s small bowel, it is extremely rare. At home (in his new house that he was able to move into without severe abdominal pain), the care team from Tufts Medical Center continued to check in on Ryan and monitor his process.  

“I hate driving into Boston and I never wanted to do it,” Ryan shared. “But if I knew it would have saved my summer I would have done it immediately. Don’t delay. Just go to Boston and go to Tufts Medical Center.”