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MUSC Health’s Division of Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery Expertise Draws Challenging Cases from Across the Southeast

Advance With MUSC Health
August 22, 2022
Three doctors in the OR performing surgery

The Division of Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC is a center of excellence focused on advancing innovation in care for all pancreas, liver, and biliary systems conditions.

“MUSC Health’s Division of HPB Surgery offers a team of very experienced, multi-disciplinary experts that collectively work to provide the best care for patients with complex cases,” said Katherine Morgan, M.D., professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery. “The matured relationships among our providers help our gastroenterologists, medical oncologists, and surgeons transform patient care through innovative and effective solutions.”

Dr. Katherine Morgan during surgery. 
Dr. Morgan at work in the OR.

Dr. Morgan is a recognized expert nationally and internationally on pancreatic disorders. Her special surgical interests involve minimally invasive surgery, including robotic procedures, and hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery. In the Lowcountry, she was the first pancreatic surgeon to perform the Whipple Procedure robotically on the da Vinci robot. Additionally, she is the Clinical Director of MUSC Health’s world-renowned Islet Autotransplant Program.

The Division’s success has led to the program drawing patients from as far as Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida for surgery. Clinic expansion in Nexton has improved seamless access to care for patients at different stages of the treatment process. The developing telehealth program is expanding to the Tidelands, Greenville, and Beaufort, allowing people to telehealth with MUSC experts via local nurses. This approach helps reduce technical issues for patients and gives the MUSC specialists a more accurate hands-on view and assessment.

Furthermore, MUSC Health’s HPB surgery division can provide patients with the least invasive, more precise surgery using robotics, providing better outcomes and faster recovery. This is particularly important for cancer patients as it allows them to progress to other anti-cancer treatments sooner after surgery. The drive of the Division’s multi-disciplinary surgeons has led to MUSC being designated as a Pancreas Center of Excellence by the National Pancreas Foundation.

The HPB surgery division provides highest level care for patients with pancreatic and liver cancers. Their mulitidisciplinary approach through the team at Hollings Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute designated center, is comprehensive. Notably, the HPB surgeons have recently added the Nanoknife to their armamentarium against pancreatic cancer, allowing for an effective treatment option for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer and so providing treatment for patients at all stages of this tough disease. Additionally, clinical trials are an important mission at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC. The HPB division offers clinical trials for patients at all stages of pancreatic cancer, as well as patients with liver and gallbladder cancers.

Bench to bedside translational research continues to be one of MUSC’s top strengths. For example, in FY 22, the department’s research team was awarded a 3.2M grant by the NIDDK to assess the safety and efficacy of autologous bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells and islet co-transplantation in patients undergoing total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation. Recognized for its clinical and basic science research, the HPB surgeon-scientist team collaborates closely with MUSC Hollings Cancer Center oncologists and researchers. MUSC has active clinical trials for patients at all stages of HPB cancers.

The islet cell transplant program is another cornerstone of the Division’s success, with more than 275 islet transplant procedures since the program started in 2009. The program is ranked the #2 islet cell transplant program worldwide. Referring patients to the Division’s special programs is a streamlined process. Our nurse coordinators help make the referring and scheduling process go smoothly for both patients and referring physicians, Morgan said.

For more information, please visit The Liver and Pancreas Program.

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