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Leader of the Pack When three open surgeries failed to put an end to Walter Nelson’s hernia troubles, he put his trust in a new option — the da Vinci® Surgical System.


One wouldn’t have to look far beyond Walter’s extensive career as a lab technician to see he enjoys working hard. However, when you consider Walter’s previous hobby as a weight lifter and current hobby of taking all seven of his adopted dachshunds on hikes, there is little doubt that Walter has a true passion for tackling challenges. Unfortunately, hard work has a way of taking its toll. In 1987, Walter had his first hernia. A trip to the operating room put his troubles behind him — or so he had hoped. Just two years later, Walter’s hernia problems returned. He went back to the doctor in 1989 and again in 1992 — all in an attempt to finally fix the pain once and for all.

“With each open surgery, my recovery took longer and longer,” Walter says. “So, when the pain came back in 2013, I decided to put off doing anything about it. After all, the last three operations failed to permanently fix the problem.” However, with each passing day, the pain got worse, preventing Walter from playing with his dogs or going on long hikes. That’s when Walter decided to search for a solution.

Relief Through Robotics

After doing some digging, Walter learned about Linda Bergal, M.D., and her team at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth. “She had outstanding reviews online and I also saw where she had plenty of experience using a new robotic system to repair hernias,” Walter says. “I thought I’d go speak with her.” Walter and Dr. Bergal met to discuss a way in which they could fix Walter’s abdominal woes.
“Having had three open surgeries in the past meant we would have to be very cautious about a fourth surgery,” says Dr. Bergal, general surgeon at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth. “However, that’s where the minimally invasive nature of the da Vinci is so helpful.”

Using just a few small incisions, Dr. Bergal was easily able to access the problem area — even taking a few pictures so that Walter could better understand the problem. “Robotic surgery allows us to keep the anatomy intact a lot better,” Dr. Bergal says. “This capability leads to a much stronger repair with less pain for the patient.” The surgery was a complete success. “My recovery from this robotic
surgery was clearly better than previous operations,” Walter says. “I had to keep reminding myself to take things easy for a while because I felt so great. I can’t say enough how thankful I am to Dr. Bergal and everyone who helped me."