New developments in gastroesophageal surgery at UF&Shands

Kfir Ben-David, M.D., uses a daVinci robot to perform many operations.Gastroesophageal surgery at UF&Shands keeps moving forward to stay at the forefront of developments in the field.

According to Kfir Ben-David, MD, an assistant professor of surgery and director of bariatric surgery at UF&Shands, UF gastroesophageal surgeons perform an estimated 99 percent of their operations laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgeries are performed through a few small incisions — or sometimes, just one. The use of small incisions instead of large ones reduces patients’ pain, Ben-David said.

An article published in the January 2012 issue of Surgical Endoscopy shows UF&Shands achieves impressively consistent, positive results performing minimally invasive esophagectomies — operations in which surgeons remove part of a patient’s esophagus. Typically, people who undergo this surgery do so because of cancer.

The article describes UF surgeons’ successful performance of 100 consecutive minimally invasive esophagectomies at UF&Shands and the Malcom Randall Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. Ninety-nine of the patients recovered and left the hospital. One death occurred that was unrelated to the surgical procedure.

“We’ve become the referral center for a lot of patients requiring benign and malignant gastroesophageal surgery,” Ben-David said.

UF gastroesophageal surgeons also are using a new surgical robot to perform certain operations.

“This (robot) has three working arms and a camera,” Ben-David said. “It allows for better visualization while performing the surgery. You could almost see it in 3-D, which allows you to be a little bit more meticulous.”

Procedures performed robotically also make use of small incisions, instead of the large ones required for open surgery. Ben-David said the team plans to eventually perform some surgeries using an endoscope, a long, thin tube inserted into the mouth or other body cavities and maneuvered to reach the surgery site. Small tools such as a camera or cutting devices can be affixed to an endoscope, allowing surgeons to see inside the body and perform surgeries.

“We’re always trying to find new ways to advance our delivery of care for patients,” Ben-David said.