The University of Maryland Medical Center has embarked on an innovative way to teach doctors how to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures that allow patients to recover faster and leave the hospital sooner. With help from $1.5 million in philanthropic donations, the medical center has opened the Swirnow Videoscopic Surgical Center, to provide hands-on training in videoscopic techniques to surgical residents and surgeons from the local community and across the country.
"Laparoscopic surgery is a rapidly developing field. Our goal with this center is to improve the quality of patient care by training physicians in a comprehensive way with state-of-the-art techniques," says John L. Flowers, M.D., director of the center and chief of general surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Dr. Flowers is also an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The laparoscopic technique requires learning a whole different approach, using specialized instruments, and new ways to perform the surgery," adds Dr. Flowers, who is a pioneer in laparoscopic surgery and has trained hundreds of surgeons in the technique since 1990. "Rather than looking down into the body cavity, surgeons watch what they are doing on video monitors."
The center, one of a few in the country, houses several monitors and instruments for hands-on training, a library of educational tapes and specialized texts and a classroom with telemedicine links to the hospital's operating room, endoscopy suite and operating rooms at other hospitals.
"The training center provides a valuable tool for physicians who want to learn videoscopic techniques," says Eugene Cho, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The center enables surgeons to master laparoscopic skills before they ever enter the operating room. They can practice on inanimate models and computer simulations and they can also observe live operations through the center's telemedicine link."
Laparoscopic surgery only requires several small holes through which surgeons place their instruments, instead of a large incision. They insert the laparoscope through a small incision, usually at the navel. The laparoscope contains a miniature video camera, which is why the technique is also known as "videoscopic surgery."
Because there is no large incision, patients can go home from the hospital sooner and they recover and return to their normal activities much faster.
"I am happy to be a part of such an exciting program that is helping improve the delivery of medical care to patients, " says Richard Swirnow, a real estate developer for whom the center is named. "The center's research and developments in laparoscopic surgery will help save lives and enable people to recover sooner." A portion of the funding for the center was donated by Mr. Swirnow and the Swirnow Charitable Foundation.
With a surgical team that included Dr. Flowers, the University of Maryland Medical Center was the first to perform a laparoscopic gall bladder removal in the Northeastern United States, in September 1989. Since that time, Dr. Flowers and others have been in the forefront of developing ways to use laparoscopic surgery for a variety of procedures, including kidney removal, appendectomy, colon surgery, lung procedures, and spleen removal. So far, the University of Maryland Medical Center doctors have performed more than 600 laparoscopic kidney removals from living donors for transplant since March 1996, the most in the world.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.