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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Andrew Speaker Gets TB Lung Surgery

Speaker's Tuberculosis Lung Surgery Reportedly Went Well and Was Routine, Doctors Say
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July 17, 2007 -- Tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker had lung surgery this morning in Colorado to remove diseased and damaged tissue in his lung.

The TB lung surgery was performed at the University of Colorado Hospital at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., by John D. Mitchell, MD, chief of general thoracic surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital.

The goal was to remove as much of the tuberculosis bacteria as possible from Speaker's lungs, as well as any lung tissue damaged by tuberculosis.

"Doctors say it went well and everything was routine," according to a University of Colorado Hospital statement.

Speaker is recovering from the operation and is expected to return to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver "in a few days, depending on his progress post-surgery," states the University of Colorado Hospital.

Speaker's Tuberculosis

Speaker, an Atlanta lawyer, was recently in the headlines when the CDC ordered him into medical isolation after he and his bride took two transatlantic flights.

At the time, Speaker was believed to have extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB). But on July 3, Speaker's tuberculosis diagnosis was changed to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB).

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis doesn't respond to the first preferred treatments. But it's more responsive to tuberculosis drugs than extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.

When doctors announced that Speaker had MDR TB instead of XDR TB, they said Speaker might not need lung surgery as part of his tuberculosis treatment, but no firm decision had been made about that while doctors monitored Speaker's tuberculosis antibiotic treatment.

Speaker's TB Lung Surgery

After consulting with his doctors, Speaker decided yesterday to undergo lung surgery today, according to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

Speaker's tuberculosis lung surgery is a complement to the antibiotic therapy he is currently undergoing, and improves his chances of a complete and long-term cure from the disease, states the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

Speaker got minimally invasive lung surgery called video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).

In VATS, surgeons access the lung through a 2-inch incision in the patient's side, as well as two incisions (each 1 centimeter long) for surgical instruments and a tiny, fiber-optic camera.

The infected part of Speaker's lung has been described as roughly the size of a tennis ball, notes the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.

“This type of surgery requires that we take special care to contain any infected tissue I remove, and that we identify and completely resect (remove) any spread of the infection to the chest wall," Mitchell states in an earlier National Jewish Medical and Research Center news release.

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