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New Minimally Invasive Surgery for Esophageal Cancer Offered at UPMC Pinnacle West Shore

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11/9/2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. – UPMC is the first in central Pennsylvania to offer fully robotic minimally invasive surgery for esophageal cancer. UPMC Thoracic Surgeons John Brady, D.O., and Troy Moritz, D.O., F.A.C.O.S., perform this procedure, which involves the removal of the esophagus for patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer, at UPMC Pinnacle West Shore.

According to the American Cancer Society more than 18,000 new esophageal cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The minimally invasive procedure offered at UPMC Pinnacle West Shore allows the patient to receive the same procedure as traditional open surgery but with smaller incisions. The other benefits of minimally invasive surgery are reduced complications, a shorter hospital stay, and reduced pain and scarring.

This procedure was performed with robotic assistance, providing the surgeons with greater dexterity and the ability to access hard-to-reach areas of the body. The surgeon is control of every movement throughout the operation.

“A traditionally performed esophagectomy would require a large abdominal incision and another large incision in the chest, which includes spreading the ribs,” said Dr. Brady. “This minimally invasive surgery requires only four to five small incisions in the abdominal wall and chest to perform the same operation as traditional open surgery, without compromising cancer outcomes.”

Once an individual is diagnosed with esophageal cancer, surgeons and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center use a multidisciplinary approach to determine the best combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatment for each patient.

“As surgeons, we meet weekly with our UPMC Hillman Cancer Center colleagues, including medical and radiation oncology, to thoroughly review each individual patient’s information. Through UPMC’s investments in technology and clinical research, we are able to offer our patients these advanced treatment options close to home,” said Dr. Moritz.

The minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) takes on average six hours to perform. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the diseased part of the stomach and esophagus. The surgeon then reconstructs the esophagus by connecting it once again to the stomach. On average the patient stays about six days at the hospital and will transition to a liquid diet prior to discharge. A feeding tube is placed during the operation and removed in the office about one month following surgery.

For MIE surgery, a patient’s experience and outcome depend heavily on the expertise of the physicians and medical team performing the surgery. Dr. Brady completed his fellowship and training at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute in Pittsburgh. UPMC surgeons are among the most experienced in the world, having performed nearly 2,000 MIEs.

Obesity and long-term irritation from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are believed to be contributors esophageal cancer. To learn more, visit UPMCPinnacle.com/Chest.