USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- Fleet Surgical Team 2 performed emergency surgery on a Sailor from the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) on Feb. 26, while embarked on board the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4).
Both ships are part of the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group (NASSG), deployed to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
Cmdr. Thomas Goaley, the team general surgeon, said the Sailor began experiencing abdominal pain on Feb. 24. When initial lab work aboard Philippine Sea indicated acute appendicitis, the ship's hospital corpsman called Nassau for assistance. Medical evacuation was coordinated through Cmdr. Timothy Quiner, the team's officer in charge and NASSG surgeon.
The Sailor was brought to Nassau by helicopter the next morning and admitted to the medical ward for observation. Goaley said her symptoms worsened over the next 18 hours and surgery became necessary.
"We have good basic laboratory and X-ray studies available on Nassau, however we don't have CT scans," Goaley said. "We rely very much on clinical examination. Women can also have conditions that can mask or mimic appendicitis, so we decided to use a laparoscope to determine the cause."
Goaley said during surgery it was discovered the Sailor had suffered a ruptured ovarian cyst, which he believes was the primary cause of her illness. Her appendix was removed in the same procedure as a preventative measure.
Goaley said that it's common to treat hernias and appendicitis at sea, but the ability to perform minimally invasive laparoscopies on large combat ships has been introduced over the past five to ten years and individual ship's capabilities remain somewhat inconsistent throughout the fleet.
"The Surgeon General purchased laparoscopes in the mid- to late-90s for all the large decks, but the consumables required aren't standard across the fleet yet," he said. "So we made sure before we left that we had adequate supplies in order to do cases like this."
Goaley said traditional abdominal surgery would have required a large incision that would, on average, require 20 stitches and a two week stay in the medical ward, followed by a week or two of light duty.
Using a laparoscope, the surgery only required a one centimeter incision and two five millimeter incisions that required no stitches at all. The patient was walking around the ship the within 36 hours.
"She's doing well and walking around the ship on light duty," he said. "She should be back to a full duty status a week after the surgery. When we get close to Philippine Sea, we'll send her back to finish the cruise."
For more news from USS Nassau, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha4/.