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Interviews with Thoracic Surgeons

Jupiter Medical Center: Q & A with Dr. K. Adam Lee

Dr. K. Adam Lee, a thoracic surgeon with extensive experience in robotic surgery was recently selected as the Medical Director of the new thoracic surgery center at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida.  (Jupiter, Florida is a oceanside community close to West Palm Beach, located between Orlando and Miami.)

Prior to coming to Jupiter, Dr. Lee was most recently at the Kennedy Health System in New Jersey.

Dr. Lee is well-known for his expertise in thoracic robotic surgery and has trained surgeons in using the DaVinci robot, in live demonstrations, conferences and educational sessions.  Currently, Dr. Lee is working with three other thoracic surgeons.

After reading about Dr. Lee, I contacted him (by email) to ask about his plans for the future.

Q & A with Dr. K. Adam Lee

      CdeT:  There is quite a bit of interest in robotic surgery right now.  Would you please tell us more about some of the robotic surgery procedures you are performing, and why these procedures are becoming popular?

Dr. Lee:  [In our program, we are currently performing several different robotic procedures including]:

 Robotic lobectomy for lung cancer. Lobectomy, or the surgical removal of a cancerous lobe in the lung, is the standard treatment of early-stage non small-cell lung cancer.  Until recently, this procedure required a large incision that could cause the patient significant pain and a long recovery period

Segmentectomy- especially for pulmonary compromised patients,  Wedge resections

Robotic thymectomy for myasthenia gravis/ Thymomas. The removal of the thymus gland is often a recommended treatment for patients who have myasthenia gravis, which is a neuromuscular disorder that can cause muscle weakness.  Traditional surgery involves a large, length-wise incision along the breastbone, similar to that used for open-heart surgery.

Mediastinal biopsies and resections

 Robotic resection of mediastinal masses. The mediastinum is the portion of the chest cavity between the lungs. When tumors or other masses grow in the mediastinum—such as thymoma or lymphoma—surgeons can remove the masses robotically through small incisions instead of the large incisions required with traditional open surgery.

Anterior:
Lymph nodes ie-lymphoma, metastatic lesions

Posterior:
Neurogenic tumors i.e Schwannomas.

Esophagus

Esophagectomy

Esophogeal myotomy for achalasia. Achalasia is a disorder that affects the ability of the esophagus to move food toward the stomach. Left untreated, achalasia can result in the widening of the esophagus to the point at which it begins to function as a reservoir instead of a conduit. That can lead to infection, obstruction and even the development of esophageal cancer.
Surgeons can correct this condition using a procedure called myotomy, in which the esophageal muscle is cut and repositioned.

Robotic laparoscopic Belsey fundoplasty for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The most common disease in humans, GERD affects nearly 20 percent of Americans. Nearly everyone experiences GERD from time to time, but it can lead to injury of the esophagus and upper digestive track, as well as esophageal cancer, if it is experienced on an ongoing basis. Belsey fundoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical technique that can correct problems with the esophagus that lead to GERD.  

Thoracic Sympathectomy: Palmar Hyperhidrosis [this is a condition for excessive sweating of the palms.]

CdeT:.  Will you be performing esophagectomies?

Dr. Lee:   We will be adding minimal invasive esophageal surgery via Video Assisted and Robotic assisted thoracoscopic
procedures.

CdeT: Do you currently perform any single port surgeries?

Dr. Lee: We  will review which cases would benefit from the single port exposure.   Most probable are the mediastinal biopsy and resection cases.

CdeT: How many years have you been operating/ performing robotic surgery?

Dr. Lee:  I have been performing robotic thoracic surgery since 2003.

CdeT: What is your average annual case volume and what
percentage of procedures are you performing using the robot?

Dr. Lee: We perform greater than 90% of all our thoracic surery cases utilizing the minimal invasive approach (VATS& RATS).  We plan all of our  pulmonary lobectomies for early stage Non Small Cell Lung cancers to be performed utilizing the four arm robotic lobectomy, a total endoscopic approach.

CdeT:  Do you have a mesothelioma or any other specialty
clinics are part of your program?

Dr. Lee: Yes, we cover the entire spectrum of the thoracic disease process as well as participating in research trials. One of our sub specialty clinics is the emphasis on minimal invasive thoracic surgery.

CdeT:  Where do you think the future of thoracic surgery is
heading?

Dr. Lee:  I see the future continuing to progress in minimal invasive surgery.   Currently a little over 20% across the country utilize MIS.  This number will increase over the next 5 years and beyond as the result of MIS continues to show as good and better  results as compared to the standard thoracotomy approach.  Secondly, early detection methods will improve so as to find the cancers at earlier stages and hopefully shift the survival curves.

CdeT:  What do you plan for the future of your program?

Dr. Lee:  To be a comprehensive program with emphasis on early detection and minimal  invasive surgery, utilizing trials and protocols for the most difficult of cases.

 Dr. K. Adam Lee, MD

Thoracic Surgeon/ Medical Director of Thoracic Surgery & Lung Center

Jupiter Medical Center

 1240 S. Old Dixie Highway

Jupiter, Florida 33458

http://www.jupitermed.com/lung

tele: 561 – 263 – 3604

Update: Dr. Lee’s most recent face to face interview.

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About K Eckland

World of Thoracic Surgery is a blog about the work, research, and practices of thoracic surgeons around the world. It includes case studies, [sometimes] dry research, interviews with thoracic surgeons along with patient perspectives, and feedback.

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