Nav: Home

5,000 and counting: Penn Medicine celebrates reconstruction milestone

March 28, 2017

PHILADELPHIA - Doctors in Penn Medicine's Division of Plastic Surgery recently performed their 5,000th free flap reconstructive surgery -- in which tissue is taken from another part of the body and used to improve the appearance of a wound or scar. Focusing on breast reconstructions, as well as head and neck surgeries and leg surgeries, Penn has become the largest free flap reconstruction center in the United States by volume. Their milestone will be the focus of a presentation at the 96th Annual American Association of Plastic Surgeons Meeting in Austin, Texas, in which they will educate leaders from other institutions on the process of building a free flap program.

"This achievement really speaks to how much we've grown in this area over the last 10 years," said Joseph Serletti, MD, Chief of Plastic Surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Women undergoing a mastectomy are faced with several options for reconstruction, whether they've had breast cancer or have decided to undergo the procedure preventatively if they are, for instance, at a high risk of developing the disease due to family history or being carriers of the BRCA gene mutations. The free flap procedure, while a longer and more complex surgery than alternatives, gives patients a more natural appearance and has been shown to help avoid infection. Patients with cancer usually wait until their chemotherapy and/or radiation is completed before undergoing reconstruction, while those who are undergoing mastectomy as a preventive measure may have both surgeries at once.

Before Serletti arrived in 2006, Penn was doing less than 50 free flap procedures each year, and all of them were at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2016, Penn doctors performed more than 700 of these procedures at eight different campuses across the region, including Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Hospitals in Philadelphia, Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and clinics in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

"You can't do all of that without support at all levels, from the leadership at Penn to the faculty and our staff," Serletti said. "It shows Penn's commitment to bringing modern, cutting edge procedures to the Delaware Valley."

That commitment has also allowed Serletti to expand Penn's team both from a faculty standpoint and on an educational level. Over the last 10 years, Penn has gone from five faculty members in the division of Plastic Surgery to 19, with plans to add two more. No one has left along the way. In that same period, the number of residents and fellows has more than tripled, growing from eight to 25. That includes four times as many residents in microsurgery - the area dealing with free flaps.

The reconstructive microsurgery team includes Alexander Au, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Surgery, Joshua Fosnot, MD, an assistant professor of Surgery, Suhail Kanchwala, MD, an assistant professor of Surgery, Stephen Kovach, MD, an associate professor of Surgery, David Low, MD, a professor of Surgery, and Liza Wu, MD, an associate professor of Surgery.

The growth among faculty and staff has allowed the team to not only see more patients, but also to do more research. Doctors from the Center for Human Appearance are publishing almost five times as many papers in peer-reviewed journals as they were a decade ago, ensuring that the division is at the forefront of innovation. About 40 percent of those are focused on reconstructive microsurgery.

"Not only is everything we do based in evidence, we're also constantly tracking our own outcomes to make sure our work is top quality," Serletti said.
-end-
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $6.7 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $392 million awarded in the 2016 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2016, Penn Medicine provided $393 million to benefit our community.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.
Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.
Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.
Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.