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Leading expertise meets advanced technology for world-class care, training and research.

Redefining Care

Using a true team-based approach to surgery, UW Medicine leverages its award-winning nursing and social work programs to create an individualized plan for your care within a day of seeing you.

Expertise that Translates

Patients from around the world come to us for advanced surgical techniques that result in less pain, fewer complications and faster recovery times. Many of our surgeons are global leaders in their field.

Immersive Exploration

As part of the University of Washington, our care providers, researchers and faculty elevate surgical care through education, clinical studies and innovations, including virtual reality to study vital organs.

Plastic Surgery

For patients recovering from a serious condition or trauma, our team works with you over time to repair damaged tissue, restore function and enhance your appearance.

Featured provider

Meet the provider: Judy Chen, M.D.

Dr. Chen is a board-certified bariatric surgeon and expert in the surgical treatment of diabetes and metabolic diseases. She is dedicated to treating patients with compassion and respect. View Full Bio.

Some of our common services:

Our board-certified anesthesiologists work to ensure your comfort during the surgery and recovery process. Because pain effects each person differently, we bring together specialists from across our disciplines — from neurology to physical therapy — along with your primary care provider, to diagnose and design a customized treatment plan.

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Hernias are one of the most common conditions requiring surgery. In fact, one in four men will have a hernia at some point. Fortunately, most hernias are simple and straightforward to repair. For that reason, they’re often performed by general surgeons. At the UW Medicine Hernia Center at Northwest Hospital, you’ll be treated by specialists who focus solely on hernias. That means you’ll be seen by the most experienced hernia surgeons in the region, trained in the most advanced and least invasive techniques.

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One of the best ways you can be a strong partner with your surgical care team is by carefully following the guidelines you’ll be given to prepare for surgery—and by promptly letting your doctor know if there’s some reason you can’t follow them. You should also make sure your doctor knows about every medication or supplement you’re taking, including over-the-counter medicines.

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Nearly all women with breast cancer choose surgery as part of their treatment. The breast surgery you choose in partnership with your care team may be either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. A lumpectomy keeps the breast intact. The tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue is removed. Often, some lymph nodes are also removed to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread. A mastectomy is removal of the breast, and can be the safest option for certain types of cancer and cancers that have progressed beyond a certain point. There are several types of mastectomy. Your care team will carefully explain your options to help you make this important decision.

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In 1960, UW Medicine's Dr. Belding Scribner created a blood-access device that literally turned kidney failure from a death sentence to the treatable condition it is now. Today, UW Medicine is holding the first clinical trials in the world on a “wearable” artificial kidney that promises to revolutionize quality of life for dialysis patients. When you come to UW Medicine for kidney surgery, whether it’s a minimally invasive procedure for kidney stones, robot-assisted surgery for kidney cancer or a full transplant, you’re being treated at a world-class kidney center, nationally-ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2018-19.

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Surgeons at the UW Dermatologic Surgery Center all have specialized training in managing skin cancers, cosmetic enhancement and use of high-tech tools like lasers to treat diseases of the skin and dermabrasion to renew scar damage.

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Since 1974, nearly all burn patients in Washington—along with many from Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Montana—have been treated at UW Medicine’s world-class Burn Center at our Harborview Medical Center location. Harborview continues to pioneer lifesaving and quality-of-life treatments that have informed the standard of care worldwide.

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UW Medicine neurosurgeons are international leaders and pioneers in treating complex conditions like stroke, epilepsy, movement disorders, spinal abnormalities, chronic pain, pediatric conditions and tumors. Recognized as a high-performing specialty by U.S. News & World Report in 2018-19, our neurosurgeons perform more traumatic brain and spine injury repairs, brain tumor surgeries and skull and aneurysm operations than any other medical system in the Pacific Northwest.

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UW’s Sleep Medicine Center is one of the largest multidisciplinary sleep centers in the nation, with roots that go back to the 1970s when UW’s Dr. Elizabeth Giblin established the first sleep lab in a nursing school in the U.S. Whenever possible, non-surgical treatments are used for sleep disorders like sleep apnea. But when surgery seems like the best option, you’ll be treated by a team backed by many years of experience in helping patients enjoy all the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

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Hearing loss, balance problems, dizziness, problems swallowing or speaking are some of the conditions our team of nationally-ranked otolaryngology surgeons work to improve. Since many of our surgeons are actively working on new interventions and treatments, you may be offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

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Many conditions, from impacted wisdom teeth to sleep apnea to cleft palate, can be corrected by oral and maxillofacial surgery, which is performed by specially trained, board certified dentists. The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic at Harborview provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of mouth, teeth and facial problems. The clinic’s general focus is on adult patients, although patients of any age are treated for injuries sustained from trauma or for emergency care. The clinic also has the ability to treat conditions that were untreatable until recently, like a complex, innovative surgery to rebuild a patient’s entire upper jaw and palate.

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UW Medicine is ranked in the top 10 nationally for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report 2018-19. Our surgical oncology team brings together top surgeons from UW Medicine, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital to form the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Care team members from different specialties like neurological surgery and reconstructive surgery work together to evaluate and treat a wide range of cancerous growths, tumors and neoplasms, depending on the type and stage of cancer. Surgical services are performed at UW Medical Center, SCCA, Harborview and Northwest Hospital.

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Accidents or illnesses that require emergency surgery can be scary and traumatic for patients and their families. Fortunately, Harborview Hospital is nearby—the only Level 1 Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center serving Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

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Orthopedic surgery deals with problems affecting the bones and surrounding muscles and ligaments. Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2018-19, our teams of board certified orthopedic surgeons and their colleagues from rehabilitation medicine, neurosciences, rheumatology and related areas offer world-class care in everything from sports injuries to the management of arthritic conditions.

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Our surgeons provide the most comprehensive care in the region, drawing on advances in medical technology and research continuously being pioneered at the University of Washington. By continuing to evolve our experience, we offer care helping to reimagine the patient experience nationwide. Below are some of the more common types of surgeries performed by UW Medicine.

Our surgical teams will always choose the least invasive surgical option that can effectively treat your condition. Minimally invasive surgery aims to use the smallest possible incision, or even natural openings in the body, to access and treat whatever is wrong. This means recovery time is greatly reduced, while maintaining and often increasing the benefits of traditional surgery and reducing the risk of infection.

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While minimally invasive surgery is used whenever appropriate, certain conditions are best treated with traditional surgery, using a larger incision so your surgeon has the best possible visibility and access to the afflicted area. If open surgery is recommended for your condition, your doctor will carefully explain why they believe it will be the most safe and effective option for you. And our pre- and post-operative care team will be with you every step of the way to make your recovery as smooth, rapid and pain-free as possible.

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For more than 10 years, UW Medicine has been the Puget Sound region’s leader in advanced robotic-assisted surgery programs. Compared to traditional open surgery, robotic surgery is less invasive. That means less pain, less blood lost, less risk of infection, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery and less scarring.

Minimally invasive, robotic surgery is used to treat a number of conditions, including:

  • Many types of cancer, such as bladder, colorectal, gynecologic, kidney, liver, lung, pancreatic, penile, prostate, throat and tongue and thyroid
  • Endometriosis
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver tumors
  • Obesity
  • Ovarian cysts/tumors
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Uterine/vaginal prolapse

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Microsurgery is a term for any surgery on a scale so small that it requires the aid of a microscope. Often, this technique is used for brain surgery for conditions like aneurism, or for treatment of complex injuries of the hand and wrist. Microsurgery at UW Medicine is done by teams of multidisciplinary specialists using the latest high-tech microsurgical tools and techniques.

Many pituitary and thyroid problems can be addressed without surgery. However, if these treatments aren’t effective, you and your doctor may decide that surgery is your best option to restore your health. You can rest assured you’ll be treated by the most experienced endocrine surgeons in the region.

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Have a question? We’re here. Collaborative care starts with a doctor who listens to you—and what you need to reach your goals for your own health. You can count on your entire team to listen carefully and empathetically and give you leading edge, personalized information.

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Thoracic surgery refers to surgery involving the lungs, throat and chest (thorax). Our thoracic surgeons offer a comprehensive approach to the treatment of lung, esophageal and other chest cancers and lung conditions. The surgeons and medical and radiation specialists focus on advanced surgical techniques and using the latest research and procedures, including minimally invasive approaches.

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Your sight is a vital part of how you interact with the world. If you need eye surgery, you can feel confident knowing your care is backed by the front-line research and practice of the UW Medicine Eye Institute at Harborview, the premier facility for eye surgery in the five-state region. The Eye Institute is transforming eye care locally and globally, by exploring bold new possibilities like using stem cells to restore sight.

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From interpreter services to health education and support groups, our team has created a network of resources to help make your care at UW Medicine more comfortable and inclusive.

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UW surgeons recently made history by giving a woman a new heart—a woman who had her first heart transplant 27 years earlier. They are the first in the U.S. to use a high-tech “heart in a box” to greatly extend the time a donor heart can stay healthy outside a body. In addition, UW Medicine has the most experienced teams in the region for multi-organ transplant, pancreas transplant, intestinal transplant, abdominal wall transplant, liver transplant, lung transplant, kidney transplant, face transplant and hand transplant.

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UW Medical Center’s Digestive Health Center is a regional resource for gastroenterology care, including surgery. Our multidisciplinary teams serve patients from throughout the United States and offer a full range of procedures for digestive disorders. Our gastrointestinal practice was ranked as a high-performing specialty by U.S. News & World Report, 2018-19.

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The Esophageal and Gastric Diseases Clinic at UW Medical Center evaluates the function of the digestive tract, focusing on the esophagus and the stomach, and provides surgical consultation by specialized surgeons.

Each of our surgeons is fellowship trained in minimally invasive surgery of the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus and stomach). Our multidisciplinary team evaluates many symptoms, including those related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal and gastric cancer, hiatal and paraesophageal hernias, achalasia, esophageal diverticula and other complex problems.

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Your body relies on your liver to help remove waste products and detoxify your system. Surgery may be used to treat a number of conditions including cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. For people in need of transplant, our patients experience less time on the waitlist than the national average, and our surgeons have performed over 2,000 liver transplants.

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Your provider may elect for surgery to treat pancreatic cancer along with other disorders of the pancreas, bile duct and intestine. During the surgery, your provider may need to remove the diseased area of the pancreas, re-attaching other digestive organs to restore proper function.

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Our care team specializes in the diagnosis and surgical management of disorders of the colon, rectum, and anus with a particular emphasis on the treatment of colorectal cancer, anal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diverticulitis, pelvic floor dysfunction, and minimally invasive colorectal surgery. We will work with you to discuss your options and maximize your comfort throughout your treatment.

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Weight loss can help improve your quality of life, boost your health and even reverse diabetes in some cases. For over 30 years, our nationally recognized Weight Loss Management Center has provided expert care that includes a nonsurgical weight loss program, as well as minimally invasive laparoscopic and open bariatric surgical procedures.

To help patients stay on track and improve their health with a personalized weight loss solution, the center’s multidisciplinary team includes bariatric surgeons, endocrinologists, internal medicine physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and registered dietitians.

Patients interested in meeting with one of our surgeons are required to attend or watch our bariatric seminar and take the seminar quiz prior to their appointment. Please contact our clinic to attend in-person, or watch the online version here

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For more than 25 consecutive years, UW Medicine affiliate Seattle Children’s Hospital has been ranked No. 1 in the Northwest and among the top children’s hospitals in the U.S. Our partnership with Seattle Children’s allows us to collaborate to provide the highest level of specialized care for the youngest members of your family.

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Also known as genitourinary surgery, this specialty focuses on issues impacting the urinary tract in men and women and in men’s reproductive organs. The Urology Clinic at UW Medical Center offers complete urology care and includes two multidisciplinary clinics—the Prostate Oncology Center and the Urogynecology Clinic, which can help you determine if urologic surgery is right for you. The urology program was recognized as a high-performing specialty by U.S. News & World Report, 2018-2019.

Men's Health

Women's Health

Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World report in 2018-19, UW Medicine’s gynecological surgery program offer comprehensive, personalized care for women throughout Washington and neighboring states. Whether it’s a minimally invasive hysterectomy aided by the most advanced da Vinci robotic technology, or major surgery, you can depend on your entire team to offer holistic care that addresses both your physical and emotional needs.

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In many ways, when your surgery is complete, your healing is just beginning. Post-operative care starts once your procedure is finished. It may include things like occupational or physical therapy, wound care, pain management, psychological support or complementary medicine. Your care team will work with you to create a plan to make sure you get the best possible healing benefits from your surgery and enjoy a speedy and gentle recovery.

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Vascular surgery addresses issues with the veins, arteries and lymphatic system, often using minimally invasive techniques. UW Medicine created its Vascular Surgery Service in 1983—the very first year that board certification in Vascular Surgery became available. Today, our Regional Vascular Center is internationally recognized for its leadership in treatment and research, and for pioneering techniques that have become the standard of care worldwide.

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UW Medicine’s Heart Institute is a national leader in innovative procedures like implantable cardiac defibrillators, circulatory support devices, and transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Our care providers bring world-class expertise in everything from minimally invasive cardiac procedures to complete heart transplants. The UW Medicine cardiology program was recognized as a high-performing specialty in 2018-19 by U.S. News & World Report.

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For patients recovering from serious conditions or trauma, our internationally recognized team works with you from consult to recovery to repair damaged tissue, restore function and restore your identity. Our surgeons perform unique treatments and procedures for patients from across the U.S. that are not offered anywhere else.

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Know when and where to seek help.

If you experience significant changes in your physical or mental functions and fear you have a serious, life-threatening illness or injury that could require emergency medical, surgical or psychiatric attention, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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You can also go to urgent care for non-life-threatening illnesses and conditions.

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Health News You Can Use

Condition Spotlight

Appendicitis

Overview

The appendix is a thin tube joined to the large intestine that sits in the lower right part of your abdomen. Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. It happens when your appendix becomes infected and inflamed. Left untreated, the appendix can burst, leading to further infection or death.

Symptoms

Pain or swelling in the abdomen is the most common symptom. This pain may start in the lower right-hand side of your belly or begin near your belly button and move there. It often gets worse over time and may worsen when moving, breathing deeply, being touched and when coughing or sneezing.

Risk factors and causes

Appendicitis occurs when your appendix becomes infected by a virus, bacteria or parasite. When the appendix bursts, it allow stool, mucus and other substances into the belly causing serious infection. It affects 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S., mostly between the ages of 10-30.

Diagnosis

Your care provider will ask about your past health and perform a physical exam. They may suggest blood or urine tests to check for signs of infection, abdominal ultrasound to check blood flow, a CT scan or MRI to show detailed images of the appendix and surrounding organs.

Treatment

Appendicitis is a medical emergency and almost always requires surgery to remove your appendix. If your appendix hasn’t burst, recovery from an appendectomy will only take a few days. If it has, recovery time increases and you’ll need antibiotics. You can live a normal life without an appendix.

Complications

The concerning issue with appendicitis is the risk of a burst appendix. This may happen if the appendix is not removed quickly. A burst appendix can lead to an infection in the abdomen, called peritonitis. Peritonitis can be very serious and even cause death if not treated immediately.

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