Decades of experience, knowledge, and innovation coming together with advanced treatments and compassionate care.
At the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, our board-certified, and fellowship-trained thoracic surgeons treat patients with diseases of the chest (thorax), lungs, and upper gastrointestinal system (esophagus and stomach), using the most advanced equipment and latest surgical techniques including minimally-invasive robotic surgery and video-assisted thoracic surgery to achieve the best possible patient outcomes.
We recruited world-renowned thoracic surgery experts who have been recognized around the world for their innovations and contributions to the field of thoracic surgery. With decades of experience, our thoracic surgery team is one of the most experienced teams you will find anywhere.
Our surgeons, along with the support of cardiologists, oncologist, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, radiation oncologist, respiratory therapists and other specialists, including collaboration with the WVU Cancer Institute, perform the most straightforward to the most complex thoracic procedures on adults.
Recently we earned a distinguished three-star (highest) rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for esophageal cancer patient care and robotic esophagostomy outcomes. The rating, which denotes the highest category of quality, places the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute among the elite in the United States and Canada for general thoracic surgery. Read full story here.
As a patient, you can rest assured that you will receive the very best comprehensive, innovative and supportive care.
Conditions We Treat
- Lung Failure
- Tracheal Stenosis
- Esophageal Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Pectus excavatum
- Pericardial effusions
- Pleural effusions
- Rib abnormalities
- Barrett’s esophagus
- Esophageal diverticulum
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hiatal hernia
- Swallowing problems associated with Myasthenia gravis
Treatments and Services
Screening techniques and surgical procedures include:
- Bronchus surgery
- Clagget’s Window
- Epigastric hernia repair
- Esophageal surgery
- Heller myotomy
- Hiatal hernia repair
- Laparoscopic antireflux surgery
- Lung Volume Reduction Surgery
- Mediastinal surgery
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Pericardial Window
- POEM (Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy)
- Robotically assisted lung resection surgery
- Surgical treatment of hyperhydrosis
- Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS)
Minimally invasive robotic assisted surgeries
These surgeries are minimally invasive advanced procedures using the Da Vinci robot. With minimally invasive procedures some patients experience less pain, and faster recoveries than other surgeries, helping you spend less time in the hospital. Robotic surgery options include:
- Esophagectomy to remove part of the esophagus
- Lung-preserving surgery
- Sympathectomy for excessive sweating
- Lung resection for thoracic outlet syndrome
- Hiatal hernia repair
- Heller myotomy to release the muscle at the end of the esophagus
Laparoscopic and endoscopic surgeries
These surgeries use fewer incisions or no incisions. With fewer incisions, patients are at a lower risk for pain, bleeding and infection. Patients also have a faster recovery from surgery. Laparoscopic surgeries include:
- LINX magnetic ring for GERD to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus
- Endoscopic mucosal resection to remove damaged or cancerous areas of the esophagus
- Radiofrequency ablation to burn away cancerous or damaged cells
- Cryoablation to freeze away cancerous or damaged cells
- Transoral stapling of the diverticulum to treat Zenk’s divertuculum
- Per oral endoscopic myotomy to release the muscle at the end of the esophagus
Programs and Centers
Robotic Thoracic Surgery Program
Our physicians have more experience performing robotic surgeries than any other surgeons in the region. We also have one of the most structured robotic thoracic surgeries programs in country, giving patients access to the latest care and highly trained surgeons. Our program aims to improve patient safety as well as the quality of robotic surgeries.
Center for Benign Esophageal Disease: We collaborate with our Digestive Diseases team to provide diagnosis and cutting-edge therapies that include high-resolution manometry, impedance, and BRAVO capsule aid in difficult diagnoses. Learn more here.
Esophageal Cancer Program: We take pride in the quality of care given to esophageal cancer patients. Robotic esophagostomy is used for esophageal cancer procedures. Find out more here.
Center for Airway Disease: We offer multiple minimally invasive options for patients with complicated airway disease. Tracheal stenosis, endobronchial tumors, and bronchial strictures can be treated with ablative therapy, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, endobronchial stenting, endobronchial valves, and tracheal resection. Conventional modalities of rigid and flexible bronchoscopy are also available.
Adult ECMO Program: The only program of its kind in the state, it is a nationally recognized Center of Excellence, providing the highest level of care and outcomes. Learn more about the Adult ECMO program.
Advanced Lung Cancer Program: Our multidisciplinary program, which includes radiation and medical oncology, provides SBRT and uses state-of-the-art technology to treat stage III and IV lung cancer. We also offer immunotherapy, ablative therapy, and a mesothelioma program. Find out more here.
Lung Preservation Surgery Program: We are one of only a few programs in the country that can remove one-eighth of the lung, called a segment, rather than an entire lobe.
Lung Cancer Screening Program: Lung cancer screening uses a low dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest to screen for a lung mass or nodule that could indicate lung cancer. Find out more information on lung cancer screenings.
Thoracic Surgery Providers
- Ghulam Abbas, MD, MHCM, FACS
- Percival Buenaventura, MD
- Adam Hansen, MD
- Jeremiah Hayanga, MD, MHCM, FACS
- Jason Lamb, MD
- Alper Toker, MD
Through partnerships and affiliations with local hospitals and clinics, we bring access to complete comprehensive care for patients across West Virginia, and into surrounding regions, including Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and beyond. It is also our privilege to work with community providers and help provide advanced care for their patients.
WVU Heart and Vascular Institute (Main Campus)
1 Medical Center Drive, Morgantown, WV 26506
Camden Clark Medical Center
705 Garfield Avenue, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Davis Medical Center
812 Gorman Avenue, Elkins, WV 26241
Martinsburg – Dorothy McCormack Center
2000 Foundation Way, Suite 3100, Martinsburg, WV 25401
Monongahela Valley Hospital
1163 Country Club Road, Suite 106 MPOB
Monongahela, PA 15063
502 Cabela Drive, Triadelphia, WV 26059
United Hospital Center
527 Medical Park Drive, Suite 205, Bridgeport, WV 26330
Reynolds Memorial Hospital
800 Wheeling Avenue, Glen Dale, WV 26038
Summersville Regional Medical Center (Telemedicine services only)
400 Fairview Heights Rd., ACC Building 2nd Floor, Suite 204
Summersville, WV 26651
Garrett Regional Medical Center
13079 Garrett Highway, Oakland, MD 21550
- Internationally renowned robotic thoracic surgeon joins the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
Alper Toker, MD, an experienced thoracic surgeon who is internationally recognized for his expertise in minimally invasive/robotic thoracic surgery, has joined the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery of the WVU School of Medicine.
- WVU Heart and Vascular Institute offers minimally invasive treatment for GERD
The WVU Heart and Vascular Institutes Center for Esophageal Disease is offering a new treatment for patients who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that causes food and digestive acids to rise into the esophagus. The transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) allows surgeons to create a new esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux from occurring.
- WVU Heart and Vascular Institute offers new procedure for the treatment of esophageal disease
The WVU Heart and Vascular Institutes Center for Esophageal Disease is offering a new treatment for patients with achalasia, a disorder that causes the esophagus to spasm and prevent proper swallowing. The peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) procedure provides a minimally invasive way to treat the condition. Ghulam Abbas, M.D., and Justin Kupec, M.D. The procedure allows surgeons to perform a myotomy, or cutting of the muscular walls of the esophagus, endoscopically through the mouth instead.
- WVU Heart and Vascular Institute doctor stops a cough, changes a woman’s life
Nobody wants to go to a movie and have someone sitting beside them coughing. It was starting to take a toll on my everyday living. She decided to see one more specialist at WVU Medicine, Ghulam Abbas, M.D., chief of thoracic surgery. Dr. Abbas diagnosed her with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and offered her a procedure that could provide a remarkable improvement for her condition. The LINX procedure is a permanent, drug-free treatment.
For an appointment call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273).
WVU Medicine performed the first POEM procedure in the state of West Virginia.
The POEM is an incisionless procedure performed by an endoscope (a thin flexible tube) which is passed through the patient’s mouth into the esophagus. Using a blade on the end of the scope, an incision is made in the lining (mucosa) of the inside of the esophagus and the scope is passed through into the space created between this mucosal layer and the muscular layers of the esophagus. The surgeon cuts away some of the muscles that encircle the esophagus, lower esophageal sphincter and stomach, relaxing the pressure on the esophagus and allowing food to pass into the stomach with less resistance. The small incision is closed using endoscopic clips, and the endoscope is withdrawn from the patient.
The POEM procedure is done to treat the following disease:
- Spastic esophageal disorders not responding to medical therapies (e.g., diffuse esophageal spam, nutcracker esophagus)
Achalasia is a disorder that affects your esophagus. This is the swallowing tube that connects the back of your throat to your stomach. If you have achalasia, your esophagus does not sufficiently push food or liquid into your stomach. In addition, the ring of muscle that circles the lower portion of your esophagus does not relax enough to let food and liquid pass through easily. In fact, achalasia means “failure to relax.”
Achalasia usually develops slowly, making it harder for you to swallow food and beverages. It’s caused by loss of the nerve cells that control the swallowing muscles in the esophagus. Why these nerve cells degenerate, however, isn’t known. Although achalasia has no cure, symptoms can be controlled with treatment. In rare situations, achalasia results from a tumor.
Symptoms of achalasia develop gradually. As the esophagus becomes wider and weaker, you may have these symptoms:
- Difficulty swallowing food, a condition called dysphagia
- Food or liquid flowing back up into your throat, or regurgitation
- Waking up at night from coughing or choking because of regurgitation
- Chest pain or pressure
- Difficulty burping or hiccups
- Weight loss
If you are experiencing symptoms of Achalasia, talk to your primary care provider or call (855) WVU-CARE for an appointment.
WVU Medicine has the only physicians in the state of West Virginia and the surrounding region, that are trained and certified to preform the TIF Procedure.
What is the TIF Procedure
The transoral incisionless fundoplication is a minimally invasive treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that is performed in the outpatient setting. The TIF procedure is performed from inside the patient’s stomach without incisions. This procedure delivers patient outcomes similar to those provided by conventional ARS procedures, but is less invasive, has fewer adverse effects, and does not limit future treatment options. Following the principles of ARS, the TIF procedure repairs the anti-reflux barrier by reducing a hiatal hernia (≤ 2 cm), and creating a valve 2 to 4 cm in length and greater than 270 degree circumferential wrap, thus restoring the dynamics of the angle of His.
A Less-Invasive Approach to Fundoplication
Fundoplication procedures have been used to effectively treat patients with GERD for over 50 years. The TIF procedure differs from a traditional fundoplication procedure because it is performed through the mouth rather than through laparoscopy or open abdominal incisions.
During a TIF procedure, the patient is placed under general anesthesia so that the EsophyX device, used with a flexible endoscope, can be gently introduced into the stomach under constant visualization. The endoscope and the device are retroflexed and a helical retractor is engaged into the tissue slightly distal to the Z line. The fundus of the stomach is folded up and around the distal esophagus utilizing the tissue mold and chassis of the device. After locking all the tissue manipulating elements, an integrated suction apparatus is activated to gently grasp the distal esophagus and position it in the abdominal cavity distal to the diaphragm. H-shaped SerosaFuse fasteners, made of polypropylene with strength equivalent to 3-0 sutures, are then delivered through apposed layers of esophageal and fundus tissue to anchor the repair. This process is repeated to create a full thickness, partial circumference, gastroesophageal fundoplication. Approximately 20 fasteners are implanted during the procedure to create fusion of the esophageal and fundus tissues and form the valve.
Evolution of the TIF Procedure
The TIF procedure that is currently performed in the United Sates is the result of several iterations of development. The original variation of the procedure performed early in U.S. experience, and predominantly in Europe was known as endoluminal fundoplication (ELF). This first generation procedure was developed to assess the feasibility of the approach, and was designed–first and foremost–to demonstrate safety and efficacy. At the time, investigators were concerned with placing fasteners through the distal esophagus and elected instead to create gastro‐gastric plications distal to the gastroesophageal junction. After experience was gained with the first generation procedure and devices, subsequent iterations of the technique were pursued to more closely replicate the principles and outcomes of traditional surgical procedures.
If you’re suffering with GERD or are experiencing symptoms of GERD, talk to your primary care provider or call (855) WVU-CARE for an appointment.
LINX®: A solution for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by a weak muscle in the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle acts as a one-way valve, allowing food and liquid to pass into the stomach while preventing backflow into the esophagus. When the LES weakens, harmful stomach acid and bile can flow in the wrong direction and cause damage to the esophagus.
More than 20 million Americans are currently taking medication to control their gastroesophageal reflux disease. About 40 percent of patients on medication for GERD still have symptoms. While medications can often provide some relief, they do not treat the muscle weakness that causes GERD.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD but not the only one:
- Dental erosion and bad breath
- Change in voice
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Chest pain
LINX® Reflux Management System: A minimally-invasive solution
The LINX device, roughly the same diameter as a quarter, is a small, flexible ring of magnets that opens to allow food and liquid to pass down and then closes to prevent stomach contents from moving up.
How is LINX implanted?
LINX is implanted using a surgical technique called laparoscopy. This technique uses small incisions in the abdominal wall to access the area around the esophagus where the device will be placed.
When can I start eating normally again?
Patients are encouraged to return to a normal diet as quickly as can be tolerated. This helps the body adapt to LINX.
When can I return to normal physical activities?
Patients are generally able to return to nonstrenuous activity within a couple of days.
Will I be able to belch or vomit with LINX?
LINX preserves normal physiological function so you can belch or vomit as needed. The titanium beads open and close to let food down, and if it needs to come up, it can.
How long will LINX last?
LINX is designed for a lifetime. The device is constructed of titanium, and the permanent magnets mean LINX will be working for you for the long haul.
Diana explains how after 15 years of chronic cough and reflux, Dr. Ghulam Abbas of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute helped her find relief with the LINX Reflux Management System.
If you’re suffering with GERD or are experiencing symptoms of GERD, talk to your primary care provider or call (855) WVU-CARE for an appointment.