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THORACIC SURGEONS REPORT WIDE RANGE OF BENEFITS AS LESS-INVASIVE TECHNIQUES ARE APPLIED TO CHEST SURGERY

 NORWALK, Conn., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately 500 leading cardio-thoracic surgeons began the 29th annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting in San Antonio this week with a symposium on how minimally invasive surgical techniques can reduce pain, hospital stay and recuperation time while also lowering hospital costs and improving cosmetic results.
 At the First International Symposium of Thoracoscopic Surgery, experts from around the world presented findings on new applications of minimally invasive techniques in chest surgery (thoracoscopy), including their use in the diagnosis and treatment of:
 -- Lung cancer, including exploratory lung biopsies and surgical removal of lung tissue;
 -- Heart and pulmonary disease;
 -- Tuberculosis, AIDS, thymus gland disease and other immune system complications of the chest;
 -- Collapsed lungs, fluid in the lungs, and cysts and lesions, and
 -- Diseases of the esophagus and trachea.
 Several surgeons concluded that for many procedures, thoracoscopy offered a safe and effective alternative to a large incision in the chest because it provides better visualization, returns an organ to its normal function more quickly and can get patients out of the hospital faster and back to their normal activities more quickly. With health care costs control being the number one issue in the United States, it is important to note that these patient benefits translate directly into significant cost reductions for the government, third party payors and health insurers.
 In thoracoscopy, doctors insert a tiny telescope (a thoracoscope) connected to a camera and specially designed surgical instruments through small incisions about the size of buttonholes and operate while viewing the patient's internal
organs on a video monitor. This technique eliminates the need for a lengthy incision -- 12 inches is not uncommon -- and, in many cases, the need for dividing the breastbone or spreading the ribs, sparing the patient the extreme pain and long recuperative period experienced in traditional open chest surgery.
 The surgeons pointed out that thoracoscopy is especially useful in performing a lung or other chest biopsy to test for cancer because, if the specimen turns out to be benign, the patient is spared the pain and scarring of an unnecessary, long incision.
 Lecturers often noted that many of the thoracoscopic procedures currently being performed were made possible by using instruments developed by United States Surgical Corporation, notably the Multifire Endo Gia(A) 30 and Multifire Endo Gia(A)60 instruments.
 The following findings were among those presented at the symposium:
 -- Dr. Tea Acuff Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Division at Humana Hospital in Dallas, studied the impact of surgical stapling in 300 consecutive thoracoscopic pulmonary resections (removal of lung tissue) and found it safer and resulting in fewer complications than traditional open surgery. Patients needed less time in intensive care and hospital stay was reduced to an average of 3.4 days.
 -- Dr. Stephen Hazelrigg, a cardio-vascular surgeon at St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, compared the costs of using thoracoscopy to perform a wedge resection (removal of pie-shaped piece of the lung) with the cost of doing the open procedure and that overall hospital charges were by $1,118 per patient. Hospital stay averaged 3.1 days compared to 6.8 for the open procedure, and none of the patients undergoing thoracoscopic procedures required an overnight stay in intensive care.
 -- Dr. G.C. Rovario, professor of surgery at the University of Milan, said that in a series of 19 lung surgeries on patients age 10 to 74 (two had an entire lung removed) he observed a faster return to optimal organ function and patients reported less pain.
 -- Dr. Mark Krasna, director of General Thoracic Surgery and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said thoracoscopic techniques were used on 16 patients with cancer of the esophagus to determine the extent of the disease and their prognosis. All were diagnosed correctly, and hospital stay averaged 3.3 days.
 -- Dr. Mark Allen, assistant professor of surgery at the Mayo Clinic Medical School, noted that the mechanical stapling devices used in abdominal laparoscopic procedures have been refined for thoracoscopic procedures and that USSC's Multifire Endo Gia(A) 30 is the "workforce" of such surgery.
 -- Dr. Joseph LoCicero, chief of General Thoracic Surgery at Harvard Medical School, reported that new technology has made it more effective than ever before to use thoracoscopic techniques to diagnose and treat fluid in the chest cavity, called pleural effusions, and to test for cancer.
 -- Dr. David Sugarbaker, chief of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, said thoracoscopic procedures were invaluable in the diagnosis and therapy of growths and cysts in the chest, on the thymus gland (the organ responsible for producing T-cells critical to the body's immune system), and for diagnosing myasthenia gravis, a muscle disease.
 -- Dr. Tsuguo Naruke, head of the Thoracic Surgery Division of the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo, reported that he has used thorocoscopy on 38 patients since March 1992 with no complications and no deaths and concluded that it is a safe and effective procedure for diagnosing and staging lung cancer.
 -- Dr. John Wain, General Thoracic Surgical Services at Harvard Medical School, said thoracoscopy will be a required skill for surgeons of the future and recommended video-assisted thoracoscopic training be made a part of all resident and fellowship training programs.
 United States Surgical is the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of surgical staplers, the leader in the growing fielf? minimally invasive surgery and a recent entrant into the suture market.
 (A) -- Trademark of the United States Surgical Corporation.
 -0- 1/28/93
 /CONTACT: Steven A. Rose, director-media relations of United States Surgical Corporation, 203-845-4505/
 (USS)


CO: United States Surgical Corporation ST: Connecticut IN: HEA SU:

PS-TS -- NY052 -- 0284 01/28/93 12:54 EST
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Date:Jan 28, 1993
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