We are especially excited about several new robotically assisted cardiac surgery procedures that have been pioneered at Columbia recently, including the nation's first closed-chest repair of an atrial septal defect, and one of the first closed-chest operations to ablate atrial fibrillation as a stand-alone operation. Early research results are showing that patients who have had robotically assisted cardiac surgery spend less time in the hospital and recover faster than those having traditional open-chest procedures.
Columbia surgeons are constantly developing and using new minimally invasive procedures. The Department of Surgery employs these techniques throughout its clinical areas and is a pioneer in the field of scarless surgery. Minimally invasive surgery, including catheter-based techniques, robotics, endoscopic, and translumenal surgeries, are now being used in heart disease, lung cancer and other lung diseases, and a diverse range of conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallbladder and spleen dysfunction, obesity, colorectal cancers, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and plastic surgery. These advances improve our patients' lives by significantly reducing recovery time, post-operative pain, and scarring.
Extensive experience with the Whipple Procedure, developed at Columbia primarily for the surgical treatment of pancreatic cancer, has resulted in a mortality rate of less than 1 percent for this complex operation. These outcomes are among the best in the United States and worldwide.
The Division of Pediatric Surgery has long been a pioneer in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of childhood ailments. Columbia was one of the first medical centers in the world to institute ECMO, a life-saving extracorporeal blood oxygenating system to treat critically ill neonates. And, Columbia's pediatric surgeons are experts in the use of minimal access surgery. Columbia is a center for anti-angiogenesis of solid tumors, a process of starving tumors to inhibit their ability to recruit blood vessels. The pediatric trauma program offers multi-specialty clinical care and also offers injury prevention programs for parents and children. New collaborations with Columbia's maternal fetal medicine group are resulting in prenatal diagnoses of cardiac, intestinal, and other abnormalities, allowing parents and surgeons to plan a course of treatment as early as possible following childbirth.
The Division of General Surgery houses one of the leading thyroid and parathyroid centers in the nation. Increasingly, patients benefit from procedures done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia, with excellent long-term outcomes.
The Department of Surgery is one of the largest and most active transplant centers in the United States. Our surgeons have particular expertise in heart, kidney, liver, and lung transplantation. Currently, most living kidney donations are performed using laparoscopic donor nephrectomy, and many liver transplants are performed with living donors. A new high-risk heart transplant program has made transplantation an option for people once considered ineligible because of their age or other health conditions. Our Lung Transplant Program has recently received Medicare certification, in recognition of the Program's excellence.
Remote Post-operative Monitoring
The Columbia University Department of Surgery is the first in the world to implement an Internet-access critical care system. This initiative allows patients to be monitored from other locations by staff members, reducing hospital stays and increasing patient comfort and convenience.
Surgical Oncology: New Ways to Treat Melanoma and Colorectal and Renal Cancers
A new program in surgical oncology is using Interleukin-2 (IL-2) as a treatment for metastatic melanoma and metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Columbia's is the only comprehensive high-dose IL-2 unit in New York City. The program also is investigating the safety and efficacy of vaccines in the treatment of colorectal cancers.
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