D. Glen Morrell, MD

Dr. D. Glen Morrell is a general surgeon and has removed uncounted gallbladders, appendixes and hernias over the 17 years he has practiced at Tanner Clinic. He also performs breast surgery, endoscopies and colon cancer surgery.

Dr. Morrell graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, following that up with a master’s of business administration from the University of Utah. He turned his career to medicine and earned his M.D. at the U of U School of Medicine. It was in his third year of medical school that he settled on the specialty of surgery; despite the long hours required of a surgeon, he said, “those hours passed more quickly.”

Dr. Morrell’s residency in general surgery was complete at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita.

In 2011, Dr. Morrell was named “Davis County Doctor of the Year” by the Utah Medical Association Alliance. That follows a career distinguished with a stint as President of the Utah Medical Association from 2009 to 2012. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. Morrell, along with his brother Stephen Morrell, a family practice physician in Tanner Clinic Kaysville, hail from Brigham City, Utah. The surgeon, who is married and the father of seven children, hopes to return to his favorite and long-ignored hobby of sketching. He’s also actively involved in hiking, skiing, genealogy and gardening.

What patients are saying about Dr. Morrell

Dr. Morrell was very helpful and concerned for us, and did a great job. Couldn’t have asked for a better outcome! He isn’t very … exuberant, but was always willing to answer questions and address concerns. Very prompt (I love that!) and willing to keep us informed. Would confidently recommend him!     — Ratemds.com, June 29, 2012


Specialized Procedures

A general surgeon focuses on medical conditions involving the breast, endocrine system, gastrointestinal tract, colon, liver, pancreas and rectum. Dr. Morrell’s procedures include:

Selected Publications
Appendicitis Is Still a Childhood Threat, but Less Deadly

If you’re over 40, you’ll likely remember the constant dread of a burst appendix. We didn’t know what that meant actually — all we knew was you’d double over with pain on the right side of your abdomen.

Appendicitis is still a worry, says Dr. Glen Morrell, a general surgeon at Tanner Clinic. But it’s becoming rarer for that mystery organ to require removal.

What causes the pain is an infection that swells and inflames the appendix — a small, worm-shaped organ located at the end of the large intestine. This ailment has become less common, Dr. Morrell speculates, because of the increased use of antibiotics. Also, painful abdomens are more often subject to CAT scans, eliminating unnecessary appendectomies.

Appendicitis is still largely a malady of children and teenagers. After age 20, it becomes less common. But from his experience, the surgeon said, “we see another spike in the 60s and 70s.”

Medical science still hasn’t settled on the function of the appendix. Normally it just secretes a mucus-like fluid that flushes out through the colon. But sometimes the slit-like opening in the appendix plugs up with mucus or fecal matter, preventing anything from draining out. At this point, the swelling appendix is ripe for infection.

Most appendectomies take place at this enlarged and tender stage. In extreme cases, the appendicitis ruptures, causing more complications and pain. In both cases, the removal is done laparoscopically.

Recovery from the surgery is pretty quick, and many patients are able to return home the same day, depending on how early in the day the procedure occurred.

So, parents, do be watchful if your child suffers from a stomachache that lasts several days. There’s no one-size-fits-all determination because, as Dr. Morrell explains, the appendix sits differently in different people, with some locations causing more pain than others.

There are, however, some common indicators:

Pain on the right side of the abdomen. Most of the time, appendicitis starts with a stomachache in the center, which generally progresses down toward the right part of the abdomen.

Nausea and possibly vomiting.

Fevers and chills.


— Tanner Clinic staff

Pilonidal Cyst Is a Real Pain in the Behind, Says Doctor

A pimple or dimple. The only thing out of the ordinary with this particular pustule may be that it’s on your behind.

Sounds simple, routine even.

That is, until you discover that bump near your tailbone is a pilonidal cyst, known to be so painful when it abscesses that it weakens the knees of even the strongest.

Dr. Glen Morrell is something of a specialist in this discomfiting condition. But he’s refreshingly matter of fact. A pilonidal cyst, he says, is a chronic infec- tion at the top of the cleft between the buttocks. It occurs when a small opening in the skin appears, such as an enlarged pore, and becomes infected with bacteria, as well as skin and hair debris. Because that area of skin gets a lot of pressure — it’s that hard, bony area right over the tailbone — the infection goes inward.

Several factors may cause cysts

As for the initial cause, it could be many things. Perhaps a congenital defect (some babies are born with “pilonidal dimples” that may or may not flare up later on). Another factor may be what Dr. Morrell calls “patient habitus.” “Hygiene may play something of a role,” he said. “We tend to see pilonidal cysts in young Army recruits and (LDS) missionaries in third-world countries where hygiene is not as good.”

There may also be an age factor. “It seems to be a similar age as acne, so it may have something to do with oils in the skin.” And a gender factor. — it’s more common in men, perhaps because they simply have more hair follicles on their backsides.

  • Age: check
  • Gender: check
  • Possible destination a third world country: check

That fits many an LDS missionary. The result is that Dr. Morrell works hand in hand with the LDS Church. “The missionary department of the LDS Church approached me about helping their missionaries,” he said. “It’s evolved over the last couple of years.”

Oh, and to counter an Internet rumor — a pilonidal cyst is not caused by bicycle riding, a common practice for missionaries. Nor it is caused by riding in a bumpy vehicle, a situation that led World War II soldiers to call this ailment the “Jeep disease”.

New ‘cleft lift’ procedure

Because the infection is chronic, the cyst weeps and seeps, causing discomfort and embarrassment. Antibiotics don’t seem to touch it, and “open healing” has its limitations.

For many years and continuing today, Dr. Morrell says, the traditional method was to simply remove the entire abscessed area — skin, fat, infection and all. Because it left a large cavity, recovery was long and painful, and in many cases the cyst reappeared.

Thank goodness for medical advances. Today, Dr. Morrell is one of a limited number of surgeons who perform a new surgery called a “cleft lift.” In this procedure, the “pimple” is removed by making a football-shaped incision perpendicular to the cleft (which we know better as the crack) and removing the problem area. The wound is then closed by suturing the skin flaps together. It’s called a “cleft lift” because the result is that the cleft is much reduced in size and shape — or lifted — reducing pressure and making the area less attractive to bacteria.

The older methods had a 30 to 50 percent chance of the cyst recurring, said Dr. Morrell. The cleft lift, by contrast, has about a 2 percent return rate. “Quite often we’ll initially treat it less invasively and let it heal,” he said, “and if it comes back we’ll do a more aggressive surgery.”

The cleft lift procedure also shortens the recovery time from the previous painful eight weeks, to about half that. “Within a month, patients are doing well,” he said. “In fact, within a week, things have healed up pretty well.”