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Pet Lover Gets the TLC She Needs at St. Luke's Quakertown Hospital

Pet lover gets the TLC she needs at St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital

Julie van Vleit 

Julie Van Vliet



Emanuel Nogueira 

Emanuel “Manny” Nogueira, MD

Devoted animal lover Julie Van Vliet of Coopersburg keeps herself busy doing what she loves best – caring for her three dogs and managing her businesses. Owner of the holistic pet store Doggy Dao & Cat’s Meow, she established “Gift of Sunshine,” an organization that supports service dogs and their partners with financial assistance.

Happy and fulfilled, she also considered herself healthy until she found herself in the hospital three times in five months.

It started in February of 2013. Uncomfortable and sensing something was “just not right,” Julie drove herself to the Emergency Room at St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital. While here, she met general surgeon Emanuel “Manny” Nogueira, MD, who diagnosed the source of her discomfort – diverticulitis.

“Diverticulitis occurs when small, bulging sacs or “pouches” of the inner lining of the intestine become inflamed or infected,” explains the surgeon. “The condition occurs when these outpouchings become blocked with waste. This allows bacteria to build up.”

While the condition often does not cause troublesome symptoms, Julie knew something was wrong. When she ended up back in the Emergency Room in May, Dr. Nogueira explained she needed her sigmoid colon removed. Consequently, he performed a laparoscopic sigmoid resection, a procedure that uses minimally invasive techniques, resulting in shorter hospital stays, less risk of infection and a faster return to normal activities.

Feeling better since the surgery, Julie considers Dr. Nogueira to be her own gift of sunshine. “Dr. Manny always had time for my numerous phone calls and questions; I will be forever grateful to him and his wonderful staff,” she says.

St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital Provides Surgical Patients Advanced Procedures in a Convenient Location

St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital provides patients with access to some of the latest surgical procedures. Typically unavailable at smaller community hospitals, these include advanced minimally invasive surgery.

General surgeon Emanuel “Manny” Nogueira, MD, is among the surgeons performing these procedures. A graduate of the St. Luke’s Surgical Residency Program at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Dr. Nogueira gained additional expertise through a laparoscopic surgery fellowship at Brown University Medical School. Working out of Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, this program teaches surgeons to perform specialized, minimally invasive procedures.

Although Dr. Nogueira performs traditional “open” surgery, he prefers laparoscopic surgery, which uses specialized instruments along with a camera called a laparoscope. During the procedure, the device is passed into the abdominal cavity through an incision about one inch long. The laparoscope transmits a live video feed from the abdominal cavity to high-resolution video monitors in the operating room. While watching the monitor’s high-definition display, the surgeon uses instruments to perform the procedure through a second small incision in the abdomen.

Compared with traditional surgery, patients often experience less pain and scarring and typically recover sooner after laparoscopic surgery. Many patients return home the same day. The technique can be used for most intestinal surgeries, including hernia repair. Also, it can be used to remove organs, such as the colon, spleen, gallbladder, appendix, and ovaries, as well as treat infections, adhesions, cysts and other masses.

One of Dr. Nogueira’s favorite procedures is the technically challenging laparoscopic paraesophagheal hernia repair. The surgery relieves pain caused by the stomach that has herniated into the chest cavity and relieves acid reflux, a painful form of heartburn resulting from stomach acid moving backward from the stomach into the esophagus. Recently, he performed the procedure on a very elderly woman, who was released within a day.

“For our patients who have very severe conditions, surgery can be life altering,” Dr. Nogueira said. “Seeing the change that minimally invasive surgery has on patients before and after surgery is very rewarding.”

Dr. Nogueira says many of his patients prefer coming to St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital because they are familiar with its staff and location. In contrast to the Philadelphia hospitals, area residents appreciate its easily accessible building and great parking. Also, patients have no trouble finding their way to the surgical area from the lobby.

St. Luke's Hospital - Quakertown Campus offers a variety of surgical services. For more information, call 215-538-4510.