Clinical Highlights

Marc Katz, MD speaking with his staff

The Department of Surgery has continued to flourish this past year.In fact, in spite of the many challenges COVID-19 presented in academic medicine, we continued to provide surgical care using best-practices to protect the health of our patients and care teams.

Expansive Growth

The division of Cardiothoracic Surgery experienced record growth this year, performing more cardiothoracic and thoracic surgeries than had ever been done before at MUSC. This year, prior to March 23 when Governor McMaster placed a COVID-19 moratorium on elective surgery, adult cardiac cases were up 32%, thoracic cases were up 12%. And, by the end of the fiscal year, the number of adult heart transplants nearly doubled from last year.

Nationally-renowned surgeon and a pioneer in minimally invasive and robotic heart surgery, Marc R. Katz, M.D.,MPH, joined the division nearly four years ago with the goal to expand the program by providing new, innovative,and collaborative procedures at MUSC. Within a year, the clinical staff grew to include three more cardiothoracic surgeons and the breadth of the program expanded to include an array of options:medical therapy, traditional open heart surgery, robotic surgery and transcatheter procedures.

He credits the strong foundation of the program, built by Dr. Fred Crawford, for creating the infrastructure that allowed for rapid progress in a short period of time. But it’s more than being an innovator and leader – it’s also being a collaborator with other leaders in the field. At MUSC, he’s teamed up with Dr. Daniel Steinberg,a renowned interventional cardiologist, and Dr. Ravi Veeraswamy, a national leader in vascular surgery. Together they are developing hybrid approaches at MUSC.

With growth comes new opportunities and two new adult cardiothoracic surgeons and one pediatric cardiac surgeon have been hired with two more leadership positions currently in the recruitment phase.The Pediatric Cardiac Surgery team, led by Scott Bradley, M.D., achieves excellent outcomes year after year. The latest U.S. News and World Report ranked the MUSC Children's Heart Network of South Carolina among the top 10 children’s heart programs in the country and the MUSC Children’s Heart Center has once again earned a distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in congenital heart surgery.

Outward Bound: New Outreach Clinics Established

Vascular surgery started a new outreach clinic with coverage at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, in addition to outreach at Murrells Inlet.Transplant surgery recruited an Outreach Director (Dr. Carlos Zayas) and placed APPs in Columbia, Florence and Greenville for the kidney transplant program. In addition, the liver transplant program started an outreach clinic this year at Columbia and Murrells Inlet.Thoracic surgery continues their outreach clinics in Beaufort and Murrells Inlet.Pediatric Surgery started an outreach clinic and performing ambulatory surgery at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Concierge Center for Hernia and Gallbladder Surgery & Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Center

New concierge services are offered for hernia and gallbladder surgery and for abdominal wall reconstruction with an assurance that patients will be seen within 48 hours. In addition, an ER to OR program has been established for patients presenting to the ER with an emergent situation.

Nationally-Accredited Adolescent Bariatric Surgery

Severe obesity affects 4.4 million children and adolescents in the U.S., yet surgery is underutilized with only about 2000 having surgery annually. According to Aaron Lesher, M.D. a pediatric surgeon leading MUSC’s adolescent bariatric program, adolescents can achieve significant weight loss - approximately a 30percent decrease in BMI – and experience tremendous improvements in health and quality of life. MUSC is the only adolescent bariatric surgery program in the Lowcountry and one of a few in the Southeastern U.S.,meeting the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.

New Colorectal Division Reflects Expertise

The Colorectal Surgery Division, led by Virgilio George, M.D., was created to reflect its expert capacity to provide comprehensive care for benign and malignant diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract. The division is nationally and internationally recognized for their pioneering efforts and extensive experience in minimally invasive surgery and state-of-the-art laparoscopic technologies for colorectal cancer, Crohn's Disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases. The surgeons specialize in robotic, laparoscopic, and transanal minimally invasive surgical techniques offering benefits including decreased post-operative pain, shorter post-operative recovery time, and less noticeable scarring.

New Interventions for Rib Fractures

Trauma surgeon Evert Eriksson, M.D. is utilizing anew rib fixation technology that enables rib stabilization in patients with flail chest, leading to better respiration and lower rates of ventilator usage. “We’re changing how we manage rib fractures,” says Eriksson. “We can now putin specially designed plates to fix the ribs and get these patients out of the hospital faster, decrease their pain and get them back to their lives sooner. Their ICU length of stay and their risk of pneumonia go down.”

New MUSC Burn Center Offers Comprehensive Treatment

Steven A. Kahn, M.D. joined the MUSC Department of Surgery as the Director of the Burn Program and Chief of Burn Surgery on July 1, 2019. As the newly appointed Burn Director, Kahn was charged with establishing the MUSC Burn Center to provide comprehensive care for adults and children in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, with the vision of establishing an American Burn Association (ABA) certified burn center.Prior to opening, most adults in South Carolina would have to travel to Georgia for burn care.The Burn Center recently hired an expert specialty team that includes Katie Hollowed, a leader in burn nursing care. Theburn team focuses on more than just survival after burn injury,striving for complete functional recovery and reintegration back into society.Patients treated at the Burn Center have access to more than 50 specialists and programs. Since it opened in May, the Burn Center has met the projections established for the 3 - 5 yearmark. It recently performed the first reported successful minimally invasive skin graft in the U.S.

Pediatric ECMO Program Ranks Among the Best in the U.S.

The Pediatric ECMO Program at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital received the platinum-level Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), an international consortium of centers offering ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) for support of failing organ systems in infants, children and adults. This award is the highest attainable level of achievement an ELSO Center of Excellence can receive and recognizes select programs worldwide that have demonstrated the highest level of performance, innovation and quality in the delivery of extracorporeal life support. 

Human Centered Design

The Department of Surgery created a Human Centered Design (HCD) Program to focus on utilizing design thinking principles to create innovative solutions to unmet medical needs at MUSC and beyond. HCD is a user centered approach to design where the process begins and ends with the impacted users at the center of the work.The HCD program currently consists of Joshua Kim, M.S., senior designer and three surgical residents who are leading medical innovation and entrepreneurship projects in a collaborative setting. The residents are innovators who are trained to identify unmet medical needs and then generate solutions to solve those needs.