Joining Forces: The New Division of Colorectal Surgery

August 2016

With clinical locations at Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, and Emory Johns Creek Hospital, the new Emory Division of Colorectal Surgery will merge the talents of its core general and GI surgeons and surgical oncologists with highly experienced teams of medical and radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, and other oncology providers.

The recently arrived Glen Balch, MD, will serve as chief of the division. Balch held positions at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His specialties include surgical robotics, honed by supervising the surgical oncology robotics program at UT Southwestern for seven years, and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC), an innovative cancer treatment that delivers highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy directly to the abdomen, allowing for higher doses of chemotherapy than systemic chemotherapy delivery.

Other division faculty include general and GI surgeon Virginia Shaffer, MD, and surgical oncologists Seth Rosen, MD, and Patrick Sullivan, MD.

"Colorectal surgery has always been evenly divided between general surgery and surgical oncology. In the past, surgical oncologists cared for patients with colon and rectal cancers, while general surgeons treated such non-cancerous conditions as inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and anorectal disease," says Sullivan. "Bringing us together as a unified unit makes perfect sense, especially in terms of streamlining patients' treatment experiences."

When appropriate based on patient history and particular condition, the division will emphasize minimally invasive procedures, including robotic-assisted colectomy and such recently developed approaches as the Procedure for Prolapsing Hemorrhoids (PPH), Doppler-assisted hemorrhoid artery ligation, Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEMS), and Stapled Transanal Resection of the Rectum (STARR).

The division subscribes to the colorectal surgery protocols of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) treatment pathway. Sullivan is the medical director of the Emory-based ERAS group, which incorporates evidence-based best practices that have been shown to decrease length of stay and perioperative complications for colorectal surgery patients.

"The colorectal team is committed to delivering excellent, ERAS-standardized care at each of its Emory Healthcare locations," says Sullivan.

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