Today is Sunday, Jul. 12, 2020

Department of


Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery


Division of Thoracic Surgery

The University of Cincinnati division of thoracic surgery is a leader in treating the entire spectrum of thoracic diseases including lung cancer, benign and malignant esophageal disorders, airway, mediastinal, diaphragmatic and chest wall disease. The division has the most extensive experience in minimally invasive thoracic procedures in the Tri-State region, including video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) lobectomy, minimally-invasive esophagectomy and robot-assisted thoracic surgery. We also utilize sophisticated interventions for complex airway and foregut disorders.

The division specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, and they perform the highest volume of lung cancer surgery in Cincinnati. Special attention is directed to patients who are at high risk for surgery due to underlying lung disease. The division offers a full range of lung cancer treatments from minor resections to highly complex thoracic operations. Dedicated lung cancer surgeons work in partnership with radiation oncologists, interventional pulmonologists, chest radiologists and medical oncologists to provide comprehensive lung cancer care to patients through the UC Cancer Institute Lung Cancer Center.

Through UC Health, the team launched the first and only multidisciplinary lung cancer screening program for patients at increased risk for lung cancer in November 2012. Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans has been shown to lung cancer mortality by 20% in those at higher risk for lung cancer. We have three dedicated coordinators, an integrated smoking cessation program and we use the expertise of our multi-disciplinary lung cancer team to provide individualized care for our patients while working closely with referring physicians. We have screened 1200 people at high risk for lung cancer to date and were the first lung cancer screening program in the region to be recognized as a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance.

The division offers expertise in the evaluation and treatment of esophageal cancer, with the most experienced esophageal surgeons in the region. The Esophageal Disease Center offers coordinated multidisciplinary care in which patients are seen by a team of esophageal cancer experts in one location, including thoracic surgery, surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, gastroenterology, oncology dieticians, and social workers.

Dr. Sandra Starnes offers special expertise in the treatment of mediastinal tumors, while Dr. Julian Guitron offers expertise in airway surgery for benign and malignant tracheal and bronchial diseases. We have established a multidisciplinary team for the evaluation and treatment of complex airway disorders which includes thoracic surgery, interventional pulmonary medicine, and otolaryngology. We are one of few centers in the country that offers comprehensive evaluation of tracheobronchomalacia including surgical correction with tracheobronchoplasty.

The division continues to expand its expertise in research. The group collaborates with multiple departments in the UC College of Medicine and has active research projects in molecular predictors of lung cancer recurrence, early detection of lung cancer using blood samples, lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans, and pain management strategies in thoracic surgery.

Sandra L. Starnes, MD
Robert M. Van Haren, MD
Dr. Starnes in OR
Division Director:
Sandra L. Starnes, MD
Professor of Surgery
John B. Flege, Jr. Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery
Chief, Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Director, Division of Thoracic Surgery