St. Luke's University Health Network


    • First Endoscopic Flexible Surgery

First Endoscopic Flexible Surgery

First Endoscopic Flexible Surgery in the State Performed at St. Luke’s Hospital – Allentown Campus


Maher El Chaar, MD

Leonardo Claros, MD

Allentown, PA (3-8-2011) - Bariatric surgeons Maher El Chaar, MD and Leonardo Claros, MD  performed an endoscopic flexible surgery for a bariatric patient March 8, 2011 at St. Luke’s Hospital-Allentown Campus. This is the first procedure of its kind in the state. The procedure has been performed at only a select few institutions to include Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts, where Dr. El Chaar received his training.

The procedure has several applications, according to Dr. El Chaar. St. Luke’s uses this application for bariatric surgery patients who require a revision, which may be necessary years following bariatric surgery in fewer than 10 percent of patients.

“Endoscopic flexible surgery is a same-day procedure performed in the Operating Room under general anesthesia,” says Dr. El Chaar. “During this procedure, a new endoscopic suturing device is placed in the mouth and enters the throat. This device allows us to perform surgery by placing sutures inside the stomach (pouch) without making any incisions on the abdomen. Since no abdominal incisions are needed, there is no scarring, no infection and minimal pain"

“For most patients, bariatric surgical procedures lead to dramatic weight loss,” says Dr. El Chaar. “A revision may be needed in case of pouch dilation and weight regain. This may happen secondary to bad eating habits following surgery. Also, a very small percentage of individuals may develop a complication called a gastro-gastric fistula, which can lead to ulcers and weight gain. A small percentage of bariatric surgery patients will fall into one of these groups.”

Bariatric patient Kimberly Brennan, 44, of Zionsville, became the first patient to undergo the flexible surgery procedure at St. Luke’s to correct a gastro-gastric fistula that developed a few years after a gastric bypass, causing an ulcer. “An ulcer cannot heal if the fistula remains,” says Dr. El Chaar. “This procedure allowed us to correct the problem without making any incisions, without scarring, and without further trauma to the abdomen.”

The Overstitch™ Endoscopic Suturing System, mounted on an Olympus 2T160 Endoscope, helps surgeons place full-thickness endoscopic sutures under direct visualization. Surgeons are able to mimic surgical suturing via a flexible endoscopic platform.

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