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History in the Making

The Department of Surgery at the University of Louisville is proud of its record of providing state-of-the-art care to people with colorectal disease.

Its Section of Colon & Rectal Surgery offers clinical excellence in

  • open, laparoscopic and robotic surgery,
  • cutting-edge research,
  • clinical and research training programs that attract candidates from across America and from around the world, and
  • innovative educational programs.

The Department’s record of excellence began in the 1970s, when it was among the first in the country to pioneer colonoscopy—the gold standard of diagnostic tests for colon and rectal illnesses. It also made endoscopy a cornerstone of both general and colon and rectal surgical training programs.

Throughout the 1980s, medical and surgical treatment options rapidly expanded. Specialization in colorectal diseases became imperative. The Department responded by

  • Instituting the Section of Colon & Rectal Surgery in 1990, and
  • Establishing the Digestive Surgery Research Laboratory in 1997.

In 2001, was launched to provide patients with timely information about colorectal disease treatment and research and to attract the best surgeons, fellows, residents, and students to our program.

Since then, we have welcomed colorectal surgery residents and basic research fellows from across the United States and its territories and from abroad, including:

  • Texas, North Carolina, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Missouri, and New York,
  • Great Britain, Germany, Moldova, Italy, and Lebanon.

Eleven candidates have completed the Section’s colorectal surgery residency training program. An additional five surgical residents have completed basic science research fellowships and earned advanced degrees. They have gone to bring their knowledge and skills to patients in America and globally.

Progress in Treatment
In many ways, the work of the Section of Colon & Rectal Surgery reflects the progress made in the treatment of colon and rectal disorders during the past 40 years.

The Section regularly conducts clinical trials to evaluate the latest medications and surgical alternatives for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer.

Its surgeons and fellows stay apprised of recent developments in treatment and research. Each year, they attend the meeting of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Many participate in other national medical conferences to present papers and to brainstorm with their colleagues from around the world.

In 2005, Jeffrey Jorden, MD, completed a minimally invasive surgery fellowship at one of the major teaching hospitals of the University of Padova, Italy, where he learned advanced laparoscopic and robotic techniques to treat complex colorectal diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer. To date his caseload of robotic surgery for diseases of the colon and rectum is among the largest in the United States.

In collaboration with physicians at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Michael McCafferty, MD, is developing a hereditary colon cancer registry—including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). When completed, it will offer patients cancer risk assessment, genetic testing and counseling, and other services.

The Frontiers of Research
The Section's Digestive Surgery Research Laboratory continues its groundbreaking research to further advances in colorectal surgery on all frontiers.

Investigators are focusing on genetic research to help improve patient care. Their goal is to uncover important clues about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer.

Currently, its researchers are

  • investigating molecular markers to develop tests that would permit a more accurate diagnosis of colonic inflammatory bowel disease, and
  • employing the latest Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM) and microarray technology to discover the cause of IBD-associated colorectal cancer.

Identification of cancer-causing genes could lead to exciting breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of this serious complication of IBD.

In 2009, the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts & London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, appointed Susan Galandiuk, MD, as honorary professor of Translational Surgical Research through September 2011.

In 2004, the annual Joseph M. Mathews Oration was established to honor the memory of colorectal surgeon Joseph M. Mathews, MD. The Oration attracts widely recognized guest lecturers who share their knowledge and expertise about the medical and surgical management of colorectal disease with colleagues, faculty, general surgery, and medical students.

The Section’s faculty has been published in many respected peer-reviewed journals and serve on a number of prestigious editorial boards.

They are equally committed to educating patients in Kentucky and internationally. Through the Section’s website, patients learn about the latest surgical techniques, as well as non-surgical treatment options. This valuable resource also provides information on diagnostic tests, genetics, dietary concerns, and more.

Without question, the University of Louisville Section of Colon & Rectal Surgery is history in the making.

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