Clinical Strengths

Our approach to thoracic surgery emphasizes the multidisciplinary expertise of a team of physicians committed to improving the quality of life and long-term health outcomes for our patients.

With more than 3,300 clinic visits and performing more than 1,000 operative procedures a year, our thoracic surgery clinical practice provides care for even the most complex chest conditions. We specialize in surgical treatment for diseases of the trachea, lung, mediastinum, diaphragm, and esophagus as well as lung transplantation.

Our lung transplant program is the largest in the State in terms of operative volume. This broad experience provides perspective and the skills to assess, treat, and support our transplant patients now and throughout their recovery.

The Section of Thoracic Surgery is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), a prestigious international not-for-profit organization that is committed to ensuring the best possible cardiothoracic surgical outcomes. We participate in the STS National Database, which supports quality improvement and patient safety in cardiothoracic surgery. The database focuses on four categories: adult cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery, and congenital heart surgery, and mechanical circulatory support.

Empowering Patients

Beyond the operating room and clinics, we extend our care for patients by providing the knowledge, the community and the resources that will support their health in the long term.

Support Groups

We host a regular support group for patients who have undergone or are about to undergo an esophagectomy, a complex operation that affects a patient’s daily life for years to come. Connecting patients with those who have had similar operations provides the understanding and the advice that enables them to adapt and thrive.

Good Health for Good Surgical Outcomes

Our innovative Michigan Surgical & Health Optimization Program (MSHOP) helps coach preoperative patients through exercises designed to get them moving, eating healthfully, breathing deeply, and taking time to relax. Our research shows how these 4 factors help patients “train” for surgery, allowing them to return home sooner after their operation and feel better faster. MSHOP was initiated in 2011 and has expanded to more than 20 medical practices and hospitals across Michigan. The program is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Care Innovation Award winner.

Focus on Teamwork

Our strengths extend beyond that of our faculty surgeons and encompass our entire care team, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners, residents and fellows. One of our providers is always on hand around the clock, available on –site and by telephone, which allows us to provide seamless care delivery and improved patient experience.

Beyond the Section of Thoracic Surgery, we develop close and coordinated relationships with colleagues in oncology, cardiac surgery, gastroenterology, transplant surgery, dentistry, and engineering to provide comprehensive care to patients and to create research partnerships that are informed by many disciplines, not just our own.

For example, we work closely with physicians in radiation oncology, medical oncology, radiology, and pathology through our Multidisciplinary Thoracic Tumor Board to identify the best treatment plan rapidly and efficiently.

Translating Breakthroughs into Better Care

Our efforts in basic science and translational research provide a foundation for understanding the mechanisms of the diseases we treat, and a forum for testing new technologies and treatments with clinical impact.

Projects include RNA sequencing to understand the processes involved in the progression of esophageal cancer, with a goal of developing new diagnostic tests to detect cancer much earlier.

Our research partnerships include developing a blood-based test to detect early lung cancer, working with faculty in the School of Engineering to develop a tool for early lung cancer detection using microfluidic chip technology, and with the U-M Center on Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety to improve patient and resident scheduling logistics, ultimately improving the patient experience and maximizing learning for residents.

The Section of Thoracic Surgery is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), a prestigious international not-for-profit organization that is committed to ensuring the best possible cardiothoracic surgical outcomes.

Learn more about our clinical strengths:

We specialize in surgical treatments to reconstruct and repair the chest, including conditions of the diaphragm, chest wall, and sternum. We also perform chest wall resections and reconstructions to treat tumors invading the chest wall, achieving excellent functional and cosmetic results.

Our esophageal surgery program is one of the largest in the U.S., performing more than 200 major operations a year for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux and its complications; neuromotor esophageal dysfunction; and tumors. We perform all types of anti-reflux operations, both open and minimally invasive, including the combined esophageal-lengthening Collis gastroplasty-Nissen fundoplication procedure, to reduce the risk of recurrent gastroesophageal reflux and hiatal hernia.

We work with our partners in radiology, pathology, and pulmonary medicine to provide advanced care for patients with lung and airway disorders including emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. Our expertise in minimally invasive surgical techniques improves patient health outcomes and reduces healing time.

Our United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)-accredited transplant program is the largest in the state, with thoracic surgeons performing 30 to 40 lung transplants each year in partnership with the U-M Transplant Center. We evaluate 3 to 4 new patients each week in our multidisciplinary program, which coordinates the work of thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, nurses, and social workers.

We excel in the surgical management of cancerous and non-cancerous conditions of the mediastinum, using minimally invasive and robotic-assisted techniques to improve outcomes. For patients who need biopsy of mediastinal lymph nodes, we offer ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration biopsy, a procedure that does not require general anesthesia like traditional mediastinoscopy.

Our Thoracic Cancer Clinic focuses on the care of patients with intrathoracic cancers, including esophageal cancer, small cell and non-small cell lung cancer, thymic malignancies, and mesothelioma. We are national leaders in performing transhiatal esophagectomies, a procedure re-introduced by Michigan thoracic surgeon Dr. Mark B. Orringer, M.D.

Our Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program uses technologically advanced tools, including da Vinci robots and video-assisted techniques (VATS), to perform lung and esophageal operations with smaller incisions that result in less postoperative pain for patients, shorter hospital stays, and a quicker return to normal activities.