Lee

Bpt_7i7CEAI9wD5We’re proud to announce that New York Magazine has chosen 15 faculty members from the Columbia University Department of Surgery for its 2014 Best Doctors list.

Michael Argenziano, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery)
Jeffrey Ascherman, MD (Plastic Surgery)
Emile A. Bacha, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery)
Marc Bessler, MD (Bariatric Surgery)
John A. Chabot, MD (GI/Endocrine Surgery)
Jean C. Emond, MD (Abdominal Organ Transplant Surgery)
Daniel L. Feingold, MD (Colon & Rectal Surgery)
Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD (Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery)
Tomoaki Kato, MD (Abdominal Organ Transplant Surgery)
James A. Lee, MD (GI/Endocrine Surgery)
William Middlesworth, MD (Pediatric Surgery)
Nicholas J. Morrissey, MD (Vascular Surgery)
Yoshifuma Naka, MD, PhD (Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery )
Mehmet C. Oz, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery)
Craig R. Smith, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery)
Joshua R. Sonett, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery)

For the full list of physicians and ranking criteria, visit http://bit.ly/My16PC.

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Innovations in GI/Endocrine Surgery

by Columbia Surgery on June 7, 2014

Surgeons expand the use of the surgical robot to benefit patients undergoing complex pancreatic and gastric operations.

Yanghee Woo, MD

Yanghee Woo, MD

Readers may have heard about surgical robots, which surgeons are using in increasing numbers across the country. At NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia, surgeons now use the surgical robot to perform gynecologic, urologic, colorectal, and a number of abdominal procedures. According to Yanghee Woo, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery and Director, Global Center of Excellence in Gastric Cancer Care, it provides “phenomenal advantages” during operations to remove abdom­inal cancers, allowing surgeons to perform highly precise dissections, to retrieve lymph nodes without blood loss, and promoting faster recovery. She now performs almost all gastric (stomach) cancer operations with the surgical robot.

Based on Dr. Woo’s extensive training and clinical experience with the surgical robot, as well as careful observation of published data, the Division of Gastrointestinal (GI)/Endocrine surgery is now expanding its use of the robot to a broader range of pancreatic and abdominal operations. Together with John A. Chabot, MD, FACS, Chief, Division of GI/Endocrine Surgery and Executive Director, Pancreas Center, Dr. Woo performed the first robotic Whipple procedures at NYP/Columbia this year.

Methodical approach to adopting new technology

Dr. Chabot explains how the Division of GI/Endocrine Surgery has approached the prospect of incorporating the surgical robot into its toolbox.

“We have taken a very methodical approach in evaluating the surgical robot’s benefits in gastrointestinal and endocrine operations,” says Dr. Chabot. “Dr. Woo gained extensive experience during training with the world’s foremost experts in Korea. Following this, other surgeons in our division went through extensive, rigorous training. Once we had a well-trained team assembled, we then began choosing our cases very carefully in order to use the new technology in the safest way possible.” During this process of training and evaluation, some surgeons determined that using the robot did not offer sufficient benefits. James A. Lee, MD, Chief, Endocrine Surgery, found that it did not improve upon other methods of performing thyroid surgery. Dr. Woo found that using the robot to remove the gallbladder through a single incision was possible, but not worth the larger incision it required, especially to perform a surgery that is already so highly successful and low in risk. “There is no proven benefit in this instance, and the cost is significantly higher,” she says.

Benefits for complex abdominal surgery

However, the team has found the robot to be of great benefit for other types of procedures, including many colorectal, liver, and gastric operations. During complex operations, the robot is equipped with four arms that are inserted through small ports into the patient’s abdomen. The arm with surgical instrumentation is wristed, meaning that it can articulate in all directions. Another arm is equipped with three-dimensional, magnified camera technology that provides far better visualization than the two-dimensional visualization that is available during laparoscopic surgery. “These advances give us far more freedom of movement as well as precision” explains Dr. Chabot. Dr. Woo says that because of these capabilities, she is confident that she is able to do complex gastric operations better with the robot than without, even though studies have not yet confirmed her experience.

Initially, the GI/Endocrine division has used the surgical robot in patients with less advanced cancers or premalignant conditions. Patients could not have had any previous upper abdominal surgery, and their tumors could not be attached to major blood vessels that would require blood vessel reconstruction.

Although studies have not yet directly compared robotic and traditional abdominal operations, Dr. Chabot and Dr. Woo believe that the robot offers important advantages to patients by reducing surgical trauma overall. “We are seeing patients have shorter hospital stays and shorter recovery time overall. For patients with pancreatic cancer, one of the most important aspects is that this quicker recovery may allow them to start chemotherapy sooner than they otherwise would.”

On the horizon: improved visualization and surgical outcomes

“We have developed confidence in ourselves to do more advanced cases,” says Dr. Chabot. “Our primary goal has been to maintain safety by being prudent with this new technology.” With that foundation, the team anticipates that the surgical robot will facilitate important innovations in pancreatic surgery, particularly as it allows new forms of surgical visualization. New technologies under development include the use of various wavelengths of light and injected substances that allow surgeons to better detect the boundaries of tumors or to find disease that is not visible using natural light. These innovations may allow surgeons to perform cancer operations more effectively in the future, but they­ will require laparoscopic or robotic access. “The new tools coming down the line won’t be available through traditional incisions,” explains Dr. Chabot.

To learn more about pancreatic and GI/endocrine surgery, visit pancreasmd.org

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Thyroid Cancer: My Story

September 4, 2013

Tweet  By Erica Ervin In the fall of 2011, three months after my wedding, I began to experience some strange health issues including an irregular heartbeat and panic attacks. I was just 31 at the time, and I have always exercised regularly, eaten a well balanced diet, and have been very healthy. Since we had […]

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COACH: Wikis in Surgical Education

June 25, 2013

TweetIn this post, we highlight an extraordinary initiative taking place at NYP/Columbia. COACH (Comprehensive Online Archived Care Heuristic) is an educational platform created and directed by James A. Lee, MD, Chief of the Section of Endocrine Surgery. The goal of COACH is to help medical and surgical residents prepare for medical and surgical practice through […]

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U.S. News & World Report Recognizes 33 Top Doctors at NYP/Columbia Department of Surgery

September 21, 2012

TweetCongratulations to the thirty three surgeons at the Department of Surgeon for being recognized by U.S. News & World Report in their 2012 list of Top Doctors. Of these top-ranked surgeons, U.S. News further identified seventeen physicians as being in the top one percent in the nation in their specialties. U.S. News & World Report’s […]

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Dr. James A. Lee on The Dr. Oz Show: How to Test Your Thyroid

October 21, 2010

TweetDr. James A. Lee, Chief of Endocrine/Thyroid Surgery of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center was on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss the detection of thyroid cancer. Dr. Lee says that fifteen to thirty percent of the U.S. population have thyroid nodules. Most are not cancerous. When a lump is found, a needle biopsy is performed […]

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Study linking sugary soft drinks to pancreas cancer should be taken with a grain of salt says Columbia’s Dr. James A. Lee

March 1, 2010

TweetThose who read about pancreatic cancer have probably noticed recent articles describing the research that links pancreatic cancer and sugary soda drinks. But Columbia’s Dr. James Lee says that this study should be taken with a big grain of salt. As the author of this article points out, the people who drank soda and had […]

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