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A Milestone to Remember: 500th Robotic Thoracic Surgery Occurs at Christian Hospital

Washington University thoracic surgeons at Christian Hospital recently accomplished a major milestone in its pursuit of offering precise, leading-edge medical care. On Dec. 1, 2021, thoracic surgeons Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, Nabil Munfakh, MD, and their operative staff carried out Christian Hospital’s 500th robotic thoracic surgery.

“I am proud that Christian was the first hospital in the St. Louis area to use this innovative minimally invasive technology to resect tumors of the chest and allow patients to recover faster from surgery,” says Munfakh, Professor of Surgery and Medical Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Christian Hospital. “I am also proud that our team of surgeons and OR staff has built the biggest experience in performing these complex cases in the St. Louis metro area.”

In 2011, the team at Christian Hospital performed the St. Louis region’s first robotic full-lung lobectomy to successfully treat lung cancer. Since then, use of robotic technology at Christian Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital has expanded and continues to thrive, providing advanced options for simple and complex cases across specialties. After completing a thoracic surgery fellowship at Washington University in 2020, Shuddhadeb Ray, MD, MPHS, joined the thoracic surgery team at Christian Hospital. Ray has greatly contributed to the growth in robotic surgery at Christian Hospital through his expertise in the minimally invasive procedures.

Robotic thoracic surgery is frequently utilized in pulmonary resections, esophageal surgery, hiatal hernia repair and surgery for mediastinal tumors in the chest and lungs. Robotic techniques give thoracic surgeons the opportunity to perform a variety of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with open techniques. Other advantages to this type of surgery include smaller incisions and often results in quicker healing and less pain than open surgery for most patients.

In 2020, Thoracic Surgery Chief Bryan Meyers, MD, MPH, recognized that thoracic surgery had reached its tipping point and was thrilled to offer these procedures and advancements to the growing number of patients throughout the region.

“This milestone is just the beginning of the thoracic surgery team’s legacy of surgical excellence at Christian Hospital,” says Meyers. “The future of robotic thoracic surgery is bright and our team looks forward to utilizing these techniques in the years to come.”