Lowndes Academy graduate is first in US to perform medical procedure

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Dr. Ira Frye, a Lowndes Academy graduate, became the first Geisinger surgeon to remove uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes with single-incision laparoscopic procedure in the U.S.
His procedure was second in world to use new Johnson and Johnson technology.

Frye, director, obstetrics/gynecology residency clinic, Geisinger Health System, graduated from Lowndes Academy in 1993 and is the son of former Lowndesboro Mayor John Nichols and Eloise Virgin Nichols.

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According to information provided by Geisinger Health System, he recently performed the health system’s first single-incision laparoscopic (SIL) hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

The procedure was the first in the United States and second worldwide to utilize an Ethicon electric surgical device manufactured by Johnson and Johnson, which uses a small, five-millimeter unit.

A hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.

The patient, Mindy Hawkins of Bloomsburg, Pa. underwent the procedure on Tuesday, July 23 and was discharged within 24 hours without any complications. By utilizing the minimally invasive SIL technique with the five-millimeter Ethicon device, Frye needed just a single, one-centimeter incision. Traditional laparoscopic and robotic techniques use as many as five incisions or one abdominal incision that can range up to 10 centimeters in length.

“As excited as we are to utilize this technique with this device for the first time in the United States, we are even more thrilled to see the benefits this will provide patients right here in northeastern and central Pennsylvania,” Frye said. “This method of surgery for hysterectomy and removal of ovaries provides patients with shorter recovery times and fewer scars without sacrificing results.”

According to Geisinger Health System, surgery for removal of uterus and ovaries can be performed for several different reasons, including cancerous and non-cancerous tumors or cysts, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, pelvic pain, endometriosis, or as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million American women have undergone a hysterectomy.

“Because of the frequency with which many surgeons perform this procedure, being able to do it in such a minimally invasive way that results in shorter hospital stays truly cements the team at Geisinger as one of the most progressive, patient-focused organizations in the country,” Frye said.

Frye said he grew up in Lowndesboro living next to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and across the street from Lowndes Academy.
He is a 1999 graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Sint Eustatius Medical School in the Caribbean. He did his residency at Michigan State University.

“Living in a small community where everybody knew you and supported you and having the teachers that were so close that they worked with you one-on-one… that made me become who I am today,” Frye said. “I couldn’t have done it without the people of Lowndesboro and my friends, family and teachers.”