Press Release

Navy Pilot's Medical Mystery Solved by Three Stanford Experts


Before he came to Stanford Hospital for care, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Robert Buchanan endured six years of painful symptoms that kept him grounded from flight.

Buchanan was flying back to an aircraft carrier in the Middle East when a sudden surges of decompression left him unconscious while his plane dropped thousands of feet.

Buchanan managed to land his aircraft, but not without help—and then the medical mystery began.

The extra air traveling Buchanan’s body meant something was very wrong. Doctors looked at one of his tearducts as a possible conduit.

Air escaping throughout the body can kill a person.

-Ed Damrose, MD

Top sinus specialist Jayakar Nayak and ophthalmic surgeon Andrea Kossler examine Buchanan’s eye and sinus.

Dr. Nayak told me it looked as if a bomb had gone off in my sinuses.

-U.S. Navy Cmdr. Robert Buchanan

Many of the procedures that we ultimately performed did not have formal names and had not been previously performed, so we had to be creative about extending principles of surgery and tissue reconstruction to meet this patient’s most unusual predicament.

-Jayakar V. Nayak, MD, PhD

Top sinus specialist Jayakar Nayak, ophthalmic surgeon Andrea Kossler and laryngology chief Ed Damrose collaborated with other Stanford specialists to repair, finally, Buchanan’s decompression injuries.

About Stanford Health Care

Stanford Health Care (SHC) seeks to heal humanity through science and compassion one patient at a time, through its commitment to care, educate, and discover.  Across its health system of inpatient care, outpatient health centers, medical groups, health plan offerings, care navigation and virtual care services, Stanford Health Care provides patients with the very best in health and care through its unique leading edge and coordinated care approach.

Stanford Health Care is widely recognized for delivering the highest levels of care and compassion, while also discovering breakthroughs for treating cancer, heart disease, brain disorders, primary care issues, and many other conditions.  Stanford Health Care and its Stanford Hospital, along with Stanford Children’s Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine, are committed to delivering Stanford Medicine excellence to each and every patient and family served.

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