Uptown Greenville, NC


Surgeon Performs First Robotic Lung Wedge Resection in North Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. (November 11, 2010) –A surgical team at University Health Systems and the East Carolina Heart Institute performed the first robotic lung resection in North Carolina on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Dr. Sharon Ben-Or, a thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, performed two cases, both involving the right  lung.

A wedge resection is the surgical removal of a small portion of the lung along with healthy tissue that surrounds the lung. A wedge resection is often performed to remove a mass in the lung.

The first case involved a malignant lesion. The second case involved an aspergilloma (fungal infection).Both patients are doing well. The surgeries took place at University Health Systems’ Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

“The robot allows for 3D movement inside the lung. The instruments provide better visualizations to perform the procedure,” Ben-Or said. “The minimally invasive procedure allows for more complex resections, minimizes the pain and decreases post-operative care for a quicker recovery.”

Ben-Or performed the procedures using the da Vinci® Surgical System which offers surgeons superior 3D high-definition visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and ergonomic comfort for the optimal performance of minimally invasive surgery.

“Doing this type of procedure at PCMH is just part of how we are building our minimally invasive thoracic surgery program to better serve eastern North Carolina and our state. We don’t want our patients to have to drive very far for treatment,” Ben-Or said.

“Dr. Ben-Or, building upon Dr. Jon Moran’s outstanding service to this population for the past decade, has begun a new era for thoracic patients and the physicians caring for them,” said Dr. T. Bruce Ferguson Jr., chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Brody School of Medicine. “The nursing services at PCMH have done a wonderful job learning this team-oriented technology in thoracic surgery that will clearly be beneficial to our patients.”

“Our combined medical campuses, Brody School of Medicine and Pitt County Memorial Hospital, have the longest experience with robotic surgery in the United States since we did the first robotic mitral valve procedure in 2000,” said Dr. Wiley Nifong, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery in the ECU Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and director of surgical robotics and director of surgical research at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. “With leadership by Dr. Randolph Chitwood Jr., we led the FDA trials leading to approval of the da Vinci robotic system. Since then, we have completed 700 robotic cardiac procedures and have trained over 300 surgical team members.  Thoracic surgery is the next phase of our development, and we look forward to offering this to our patients.”

Ben-Or has a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed residency training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and general surgery at Lankenau Hospital in Pennsylvania. She is certified by the American Board of Surgery.

About East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine

Since 1977, when the first class of 28 students enrolled in the four-year School of Medicine, East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine has grown dramatically in its teaching, research and patient-care roles. Today, in its partnership with University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and regional physicians, the school is the educational centerpiece of one of North Carolina’s largest and most productive academic medical centers. In 1999, it was renamed the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, in recognition of the continuous support of the Brody family.

In 2009, the partnering East Carolina University and Pitt County Memorial Hospital opened the doors to the East Carolina Heart Institute, a $210 million facility designed to strengthen the fight against cardiovascular and lung disease, which accounts for 40 percent of all deaths in North Carolina. For more information, go to http://www.ecu.edu/med.

About University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and Pitt County Memorial Hospital

UHS is a regional health system serving 29 counties in eastern North Carolina. The system includes Pitt County Memorial Hospital, a major academic medical center, and seven community hospitals located throughout eastern North Carolina: Heritage Hospital in Tarboro, Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie, Bertie Memorial Hospital in Windsor, Chowan Hospital in Edenton, The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head and Duplin General Hospital. UHS has a management agreement with Albemarle Health in Elizabeth City. Pitt County Memorial Hospital, a tertiary referral center, is one of only four academic medical centers in North Carolina and serves as the teaching hospital for the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. For more information, go to http://www.uhseast.com.

Contact:  Beth Anne Atkins, UHS Strategic Development, 252-847-7735 or beth.atkins@uhseast.com

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Francois Archambault, Anesthesiologist; Karen Bunch, RN; Lisa Shaffer, RN; Kevin Matlock, CRNA; Dr. Sharon Ben-Or, Thoracic Surgeon; Dr. Art Martella, Visiting Surgeon; Dr. Wilson Clements, Cardiothoracic Fellow