We are proud to have a world-class division in thoracic surgery that performs an average of over 1,500 operations per year and attracts many visiting physicians from all over the world. Over 175 thoracic surgeons have come to observe our activities in the division of general thoracic surgery at UAB. Visitors have come from all over the world, including England, Amsterdam, France, Japan, China, Thailand, Canada, Italy, India, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, and from all across the United States. UAB is consistently ranked as one of the top lung and esophageal cancer centers in the country. Surgeons and their assistants have traveled to learn some of the new surgical technical advancements that have been developed at UAB including intercostal muscle flaps to decrease operative pain, new techniques to resect the pulmonary artery and new ways to perform complete portal (small incision) robotic pulmonary, esophageal and mediastinal resections. In 2010 we trained the first general thoracic surgery robotic fellow in the world.
The section of general thoracic surgery is made up by Drs. Robert J. Cerfolio, Douglas J. Minnich, Benjamin Wei and clinical researcher, Ayesha Bryant. In addition to all types of pulmonary and mediastinal resections, the thoracic surgeons at UAB perform a significant number of esophageal resections, operations for benign esophageal disease, rigid bronchoscopy, stenting and lasering of the airway, and navigational bronchoscopy. All of the most updated technologies in general thoracic surgery, including thoracoscopic (VATS) and robotic surgery, are available at UAB. We have now performed over 840 robotic procedures, including lung resection, esophageal resection, and resection of mediastinal tumors and thymectomy for myasthenia gravis. Unlike most other centers, the section of general thoracic surgery at UAB has an operating room devoted to robotic procedures and its own navigational bronchoscopy unit.
Due to its international reputation UAB Hospital is one of the few centers in world that has a floor devoted to care of general thoracic surgical patients. This floor has 20 private rooms and underwent a complete renovation in 2012. It features nurses experienced in the care of thoracic surgical patients and continuous 24-hour telemetry. The level of care is such that patients travel directly from the recovery room to the dedicated general thoracic floor, bypassing the ICU, even after pneumonectomy and esophageal resection.
Finally, the division of thoracic surgery has a dedicated research team and one of the most active clinical research programs in the country. The majority of our current projects are self-directed studies. We are also involved in several multi-institutional national, international and NIH funded clinical trials. Additionally, we routinely participate in studies sponsored by collaborative groups such as ECOG, CALGB and ACOSOG. We have reported the results of our research in over 120 publications in national and internationally peer-reviewed journals (see recent publications) and presented our findings at all of the major US and European thoracic surgical society meetings (STS, STSA, AATS, WTSA, EACTS, ESTS). College, medical students, and residents are encouraged to participate in research studies.