As the son of an orthopedic surgeon and a nurse, Stephen Manale, MD, FACS, general surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake Ascension, says that healthcare is simply in his genes.
“As a child, I remember going to the hospital with my dad while he was making rounds. Everyone there was so nice and caring, and the patients were so thankful,” Dr. Manale says.
However, Dr. Manale admits that it took some time for him to give in to his destiny to become a doctor.
“My parents never intentionally steered me to medicine, and I initially thought I was going to be an engineer,” Dr. Manale says. “Then life took me in a different direction, and I ended up exactly where I was supposed to be.”
After earning his medical degree from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Manale completed his residency in general surgery at the University of South Alabama School of Medicine. Today, he enjoys practicing medicine in the intimate setting of Our Lady of the Lake Ascension.
“Being a smaller hospital, each patient gets much more personal attention from the staff,” Dr. Manale says. “Our nurses really get to know the patients Also, my operating room staff will do whatever is required to provide the best care to our patients. They are all like part of my family. We laugh, cry and celebrate together.”
Embracing Sophisticated Solutions
As a self-described tech geek, Dr. Manale was drawn to the capabilities made possible by robotic surgery. While he notes the value of operating on his patients by making large incisions, including being able to see the patient’s anatomy up close and feel everything with his hands, he explained that patients were left with large scars where the incisions had been. While laparoscopic procedures solved the problem of large and painful incisions and scars, the minimally-invasive option was accompanied by limits. Specifically, when performing laparoscopic procedures, he has to sacrifice the agility of his hands and experiences limited, two-dimension visualization.
“I believe robotic surgery is the next step in the evolution of surgery. It offers you the best of everything,” Dr. Manale says. “We have flexible instruments that move just like our hands and three-dimensional visualization with incredible magnification. We can see things we never saw before and do things we could never do before, all through small incisions that hurt less and let our patients get back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.”
<h2>Outside of the Operating Room</h2>
When he is not focused on his surgical practice, Dr. Manale spends time performing outpatient wound care. Having completed his surgical training at the University of South Alabama, a regional burn center, he is uniquely trained in wound management.
“I enjoy the challenge of wound management. Almost all of these patients have had their wounds for a long time and have been unable to heal,” Dr. Manale says. “They really appreciate being cared for by someone who specializes in this area and are happy to have someone focus on the wound and heal it when nobody else could.”
Dr. Manale enjoys traveling when not practicing medicine. Before COVID-19, he spent two weeks in Italy soaking in the sights, sounds and flavors of his Italian roots. Dr. Manale also likes to exercise, garden, play the guitar and go to concerts when he can.
“You never know,” Dr. Manale says. “You might see me in the crowd at a hard rock or even a metal concert.”