Surgeons team up to repair two hernias, remove cancerous kidney in single surgery | Ascension

Surgeons team up to repair two hernias, remove cancerous kidney in single surgery

In late March, Karma Warren went to the Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa ER because of pain in her lower left flank. There, the source of her pain was diagnosed as stemming from a suspicious lesion on her left kidney and a pelvic hernia.

Before proceeding, Dr. Peterson referred her to urologist Surendra Kolla, MD, also with Ascension Medical Group, who ordered a CT scan with contrast.

"I could either be scared and afraid or be positive," says the 71-year-old Wichita retiree. She chose the latter.

On April 28, the surgeons addressed her abdominal issues in a single, coordinated operation: Dr. Peterson repaired the pelvic hernia and a recurrent one; Dr. Kolla then removed her left kidney, which pathology results confirmed to be cancerous.

"I believe in God and prayer," says Karma, adding that her faith, along with her trust in Dr. Peterson and Dr. Kolla, "got me through this."

How it all began

Seventeen years ago, a routine screening procedure caused a tear in Karma's intestines, which in turn led to an infection and subsequent gallbladder removal. She would later sit up quickly in bed one night and feel multiple pops, but upon exam her doctor found nothing wrong.

In 2016, Karma went to the ER at Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa for excruciating left-side abdominal pain. There, they discovered that her intestine had pushed through her abdominal wall and referred her to Dr. Peterson, who leads the hospital's Hernia Center Excellence.

He repaired the hernia, but abdominal pain on her left side led Karma to return to the St. Teresa ER in March 2022.

"I thought it was kidney stones, because I have had those before, but it was not quite the same,” says Karma. "I went to see Dr. Peterson and we talked about my hernia, but then he wanted to know about my kidney."

After she told him about her family history of renal cancer, he referred her to Dr. Kolla, who determined that her kidney was malignant and needed to be removed. "So they decided they were going to do all three operations at once," says Karma, noting that she was surprised that he could correct her hernias, given her lack of abdominal wall.

During a more than six-hour surgery, Dr. Peterson cut through a lot of scar tissue and adhesions and created a new abdominal wall with mesh. He then held Karma's bowels out of the way while Dr. Kolla removed her kidney.

"That took more strength than I can imagine," says Karma, who spent a week at St. Teresa recovering.

On the mend

Karma was off pain medication within four days and was released from the standard post-surgical restrictions after three weeks.

She followed up with a nephrologist, who told her that while hers was an aggressive form of cancer, it was early stage and the margins were clean. Although she will need follow-up blood tests and a new CT, she was pleased to learn that chemotherapy and radiation was not recommended at this time.

"Everything has healed really well," says Karma, thankful to have all three medical issues resolved and to have been referred to Dr. Peterson.

"He's a good man as well as a good doctor," she says. "He's smart, he listens and pays attention to his patients.

"My entire experience was a blessing I received from God through him."