Thoracic surgery encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant conditions of the chest and foregut, which includes the lungs, esophagus and stomach, mediastinum, and chest wall. At USC, thoracic surgery is separated from cardiac surgery, and this organizational structure reflects the philosophy that excellence can only be achieved with dedicated focus in one particular area. Due to the highly complex types of patients that are referred to our center in both thoracic and cardiac surgery, USC faculty members are dedicated to their specific area of expertise.
USC thoracic surgeons are not simply technicians who perform operations, but are well-rounded physicians who approach chest and foregut disease from an organ-centric approach rather than a specialty-centric approach. Thus, our thoracic surgeons are knowledgeable in all aspects of the management of chest and foregut diseases, from understanding the pathophysiology behind the problem, determining the diagnosis with both noninvasive and invasive techniques, and deciding on the best treatment option – whether or not surgery is necessary. This comprehensive and personalized approach ensures that the patient is accurately evaluated and that his or her treatment is personalized to the specific nuances of the condition. The appreciation of such subtleties in an individual patient’s condition can make the difference in achieving superior outcomes, whether it is the functional outcome after an antireflux operation or the oncologic benefit obtained from a cancer operation.
Patients evaluated by faculty of the USC Division of Thoracic Surgery receive state of the art, personalized care and benefit from the latest innovations in medical technology. The thoracic surgeons at USC employ many diagnostic and therapeutic techniques that are not available at any other center in the region, and utilize the latest minimally invasive techniques in their operations when possible. Finally, patients will benefit from access to the tremendous resources available at the Keck Medical Center of USC, including multidisciplinary assessment by specialists at the Norris Cancer Center, one of the original National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States.
The USC Division of Thoracic Surgery is an internationally renowned unit founded in 1990 by Dr. Tom R. DeMeester, who also served as chairman of the Department of Surgery until 2009. Under his leadership, USC has become a well recognized center for esophageal disorders that attracts patients from around the world. Continuing in this tradition, USC thoracic surgeons have recently established the only academic multi-specialty lung cancer clinic in Southern California, and have developed a pioneering program in robotic thoracic surgery that is unique to the region. As leaders in their field, thoracic surgery faculty members regularly give presentations and lectures at national and international meetings to educate other physicians on diseases of the chest and foregut. Research conducted by the faculty has resulted in hundreds of publications since 1990.