Society of Thoracic Surgeons awards WVU Heart and Vascular Institute with highest rating

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute Division of Thoracic Surgery has earned a distinguished three-star (highest) rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its esophageal cancer patient care and robotic esophagectomy outcomes. The three-star 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.

Despite recent advances in diagnosis and treatment, esophageal cancer primarily affects middle-aged males and continues to have a low survival rate, with only 17 percent of patients seeing long-term survival. Treatment requires a multidisciplinary team, including a thoracic surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. Most patients require chemotherapy and radiation, followed by an esophagectomy, in which surgeons remove the esophagus and reconstruct it using the stomach.

“It is essential to have a dedicated esophageal cancer team like we have at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and WVU Cancer Institute,” Ghulam Abbas, M.D., WVU Heart and Vascular Institute chief of thoracic surgery and director of thoracic oncology for WVU Cancer Institute, said. “Robotic minimally-invasive esophagectomy remains the key part of the treatment for esophageal cancer. Our team specializes in the use of minimally-invasive robotic esophagectomy surgery with outstanding outcomes. It is an honor to be recognized as a leader in our field by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.”

The STS star rating system is one of the most sophisticated and highly regarded overall measures of quality in healthcare, rating the benchmarked outcomes of cardiothoracic surgery programs in the United States and Canada. Star ratings are listed in the General Thoracic Surgery Database (GTSD) star and are derived by testing whether the participant's composite or domain score is significantly different from the overall STS average for lobectomy for lung cancer or esophagectomy performed by GTSD participants. 

STS General Thoracic Surgery Public Reporting offers a comparison of GTSD and national outcomes, demonstrating the high performance of GTSD participants.

“The Society of Thoracic Surgeons congratulates STS National Database participants who have received three-star ratings,” said David M. Shahian, M.D., chair of the Task Force on Quality Measurement. “Participation in the Database and public reporting demonstrates a commitment to quality improvement in health care delivery and provides patients and their families with meaningful information to help them make informed decisions about healthcare.”

The STS National Database was established in 1989 as an initiative for quality improvement and patient safety among cardiothoracic surgeons. The Database includes four components: the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database (ACSD), the Congenital Heart Surgery Database (CHSD), the GTSD, and the mechanical circulatory support database (Intermacs).

The GTSD—the largest and most robust clinical thoracic surgical database in the United States and Canada—contains more than 616,000 general thoracic surgery procedure records and has approximately 1,000 participating physicians. Almost 35 percent of GTSD participants are currently enrolled in public reporting.

About STS

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) is a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 7,300 surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy.