About thoracic surgery at Ohio State

The Division of Thoracic Surgery aims to improve patient care and patients' outcomes. Our physicians work closely with other disciplines, including anesthesiology, hematology, oncology and pulmonary medicine. The resulting multidisciplinary approach provides comprehensive and exemplary care to our patients.

Under the direction of Dr. Robert Merritt, the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Ohio State has grown to one of the leading centers in the country and continues to use innovative technology in new and exciting ways. The Division of Thoracic Surgery is recognized as a Center of Excellence for photodynamic therapy of lung and esophageal cancers.

Thoracic Surgery Team

Accomplishments in care

As part of one of the most comprehensive robotics programs in the country, Ohio State's robotic thoracic surgery program ranks among the country's top robotic thoracic surgery programs and is the leading program in Ohio. Our multidisciplinary team of robotic-experienced surgeons, physician assistants, nurses, surgical technologists and anesthesiologists are focused on preventing, treating and curing lung cancer.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses smaller incisions and results in less scarring and more rapid recovery. Using the robotic approach, our surgeons perform the procedures through very small incisions between the ribs, eliminating the need for more invasive procedures that require larger incisions. This state-of-the-art technology provides the surgeon with magnified three-dimensional vision and greater precision.

As an alternative to traditional open surgery and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), robotics is a transformational approach to treating thoracic cancers. As part of one of the highest volume robotic thoracic programs in the country, OSUCCC-James surgeons perform robotic procedures for patients diagnosed with thoracic cancers, including lobectomies, esophagectomies and surgeries to remove mediastinal tumors.

Our Lung Volume Reduction Surgery program is the first in the country to earn a two-year certification of distinction by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Lung volume reduction surgery is used to alleviate the symptoms of pulmonary emphysema and can provide an improved quality of life to many patients with this irreversible disease. Our program was mentioned in the latest U.S. News & World Report magazine. The Division of Thoracic Surgery also offers surgical treatments for lung cancer, esophageal neoplasms and benign pathology through the latest innovative techniques, minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE), photodynamic therapy (PDT), minimally invasive lobectomy and expertise in tracheal surgery.

We have developed teams to support the programs in thoracic oncology, which includes a strong collaboration with the lung and gastrointestinal disease sites at the OSUCCC – James. We share many clinical trials with medical oncology, as well as radiation oncology through CALGB, RTOG and ACOSOG. This approach allows us to offer a differentiated product to the patients seeking their care for thoracic oncology at the James Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our research initiatives also increase opportunities within the industry to convert research discoveries into new therapeutics and technologies. The photodynamic program at Ohio State has grown to become one of the leading centers in the country. Photodynamic therapy is used for curative, palliative and combined modality treatments in lung cancer. Ohio State continues to use this innovative technology in new and exciting ways.
Conditions and Treatments

Conditions and Treatments

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Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Photodynamic therapy uses a light-activated chemical called porfimer (Photofrin), an endoscope and a laser to kill precancerous cells.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a two-part process that uses a combination of lasers and drugs to treat lung and esophageal cancers. The first step involves injecting the patient with a photosensitizing drug which is then selectively absorbed by cancer cells. During surgery – typically two days after the injection – the surgeon inserts an endoscope carrying a flexible quartz fiber and places it near the tumor. When the laser is turned on, the light activates the toxic properties of the photosensitizing drug, killing the cancer cells through a chemical reaction.

Thoracotomy A surgical procedure that removes all or part of a lung.

Thoracotomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of a lung. It involves making a cut on one side of the chest and a small piece of tissue is removed and used for diagnosis. Hospitalization is required.

Tracheal Resection and Reconstruction A surgical technique that removes a narrowed section the windpipe to make breathing easier.

Tracheal resection and reconstruction is a surgical technique that removes a narrowed section the windpipe to make breathing easier. We perform this procedure to treat benign tracheal stenosis and to remove primary tumors of the trachea.
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