MUSC is known for its expertise in colorectal surgery. Virgilio V. George, M.D., an associate professor of surgery and section head for colon and rectal surgery at MUSC Health, has performed more single-site colectomies than any other surgeon in the country. This high volume means Dr. George has the expertise to perform the safest, most effective surgery for patients—and that almost always translates to a minimally invasive approach.

The colorectal surgery team at MUSC Health uses the most advanced research-based treatment techniques, including minimally invasive surgeries. In fact, Dr. George uses a minimally invasive approach for nearly all surgeries he performs at MUSC Health, leading to an easier recovery.

But Dr. George says MUSC Health also prioritizes another aspect of colorectal care that has nothing to do with technology: personalized care. It’s the compassionate approach, but it’s also evidence based. With a patient-centered approach to care that starts before patients walk through their doors, patients experience less pain and recover faster.

Colorectal Surgery: Advanced Technology, Less Invasive Techniques

MUSC colorectal surgeons use cutting-edge technology and extensive expertise to push the boundaries of what “minimally invasive” means in colon and rectal procedures. Surgeons use a less invasive approach to treat a range of benign and malignant disease, from diverticulitis and prolapses to malignant disease such as colon and rectal cancer.

“Our area of expertise in colorectal surgery is based on a minimally invasive approach,” says Dr. George. “We use this approach to access the abdominal cavity for many of our surgeries. We can also use this approach for some rectal surgeries, where we access the diseased area from the abdomen and remove the colon cancer that way.”

MUSC uses a range of techniques and technologies in its minimally invasive colorectal surgery options, including robotic, laparoscopic, single-site laparoscopy and transanal surgery.

In single-site laparoscopy, MUSC surgeons offer similar oncologic results to open surgery with even fewer incisions than conventional laparoscopy. Using advanced robotic technology, Dr. George says he has seen improvements in colectomy surgery as well as rectal surgery.

How Patients Benefit From Minimally Invasive Surgery

Often, less invasive equals less pain and a faster recovery for patients. “We know patients who have a minimally invasive procedure have less pain, the same oncologic result, faster discharge home, less incidence of hernias and wound infections and faster recovery to daily activities,” says Dr. George.

More refined surgical techniques are also translating into fewer complications for rectal cancer patients, another key benefit. Due to cutting-edge minimally invasive techniques in a specialized transanal surgery (transanal total mesorectal excision), Dr. George says MUSC Health has seen a decrease in the number of permanent ostomies needed. That means patients can maintain normal GI function and enjoy a significantly improved quality of life.

Another less invasive approach that marries the MUSC Health colorectal surgery team with GI specialists is large polypectomy surgery using a combined approach of colonoscopy and laparoscopy. This approach benefits patients who have large polyps located in the colon or the rectum, who previously would have required a more invasive open surgery to remove a portion of their colon.

Colorectal Surgery: A Personalized Approach

From the time a patient is first referred to MUSC Health until follow-up after treatment, MUSC Health takes extra steps to ensure coordinated care with a team approach. That’s first illustrated in the communication between referring physicians and colorectal service coordinators, who gather all necessary lab and diagnostic tests and patient data prior to the first appointment.

Going one step further in an approach unique to MUSC Health, Dr. George meets weekly with radiology, pathology, oncology, nutrition and other specialists to discuss all new patient cases. This ensures timely, multidisciplinary care, but it also adds a convenience factor for patients. When a patient comes for the first appointment, Dr. George is already waiting with his treatment recommendations and can get to work on a plan that targets the disease and suits the patient’s needs.

That team approach follows patients as they undergo surgery. In the hospital’s colorectal pathology unit, several specialists work toward the end goal of ensuring a smooth recovery and transition back to normal activity. Patients experience less pain, faster discharge from the hospital and ultimately an easier recovery.

The post-surgical care all patients receive emphasizes our integrated approach, making our patients’ experience as seamless and comfortable as possible. The skilled post-surgical team includes:

  • Nursing staff, who tend to patients’ individualized post-surgery concerns, both large and small
  • Dietitians, who offer post-surgery nutrition recommendations
  • Physical therapists, who help patients safely get moving after surgery
  • Pain management specialists, who keep patients comfortable from the operating table until discharge

For more information, contact Dr. George at georgev@musc.edu.