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Drexel University College of Medicine Announces 100th Single Port Access (SPA) Surgery

April 9, 2008

Drexel University College of Medicine has announced that physicians here have now completed 100 cases of Single Port Access (SPA) surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that leaves patients with a hidden scar. The SPA technique was developed by Paul G. Curcillo II, MD, FACS, associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Surgery and director of robotic and minimally invasive surgery, and Stephanie A. King, MD, FACOG, associate professor and chief of gynecologic oncology.

Curcillo performed what is believed to be the world's first SPA procedure in April 2007. In May 2007, he successfully removed a woman's gallbladder through a single incision in the patient's belly button. The patient experienced minimal discomfort, recovered quickly, and was left with a hidden scar. This compares to traditional laparoscopic gallbladder removal, which requires three to four incisions - one in the belly button, the others routinely made throughout the abdomen and lower chest, leaving obvious scarring. 

King performed the world's first SPA oopherectomy (ovary removal) in June 2007. Using the SPA technique, she was able to combine all of the standard laparoscopic entry points into one port of entry - the belly button. Once again, the patient experienced minimal discomfort, recovered quickly, and was left with a hidden scar.

Since those first cases, Curcillo and King have performed more than 100 SPA surgeries, including hysterectomies, hernia repairs, removal of gallbladders, ovaries, abdominal masses, spleens and appendixes. The technique has also been used in stomach, bowel, and colon surgeries.

"We have been getting tremendous feedback from patients," said Curcillo. "We have also received a lot of interest from surgeons and gynecologists who are interested in learning this technique."

Curcillo and King have begun holding training labs for physicians at Drexel University College of Medicine. They also continue to present their findings at scientific conferences around the world. They will next be sharing their experience at the annual meeting of the Society of Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), taking place April 9-12 in Philadelphia.

"The real benefit to the SPA technique we've developed is that it allows doctors to do the same laparoscopic procedure we've been doing for the past 15 years, but through fewer incisions," said Curcillo. "Fewer incisions are ultimately better for the patient in terms of the amount of discomfort and recovery time, not to mention the benefit of a hidden scar."