Teaching tomorrow's surgeons

In collaboration with the University of Vermont Health Network, the Department of Surgery strives to recruit and retain the best faculty members to train our medical students.  The Department provides surgical services and training at the University of Vermont Health Network and is proud to be an integral part of this high quality, cost efficient health care center.  Our mission is to provide excellent patient care, superb resident and medical student training, and to foster research and innovation.   


Faculty and student practice microsutures

Education

From the entering novice medical student to the most experienced practitioner, the educational contribution of our department significantly and positively impacts the quality of care throughout Vermont and the areas throughout the country where our graduates practice. The major focus of our educational programs lies in Medical Student Education, Resident Education, Continuing Medical Education and Skills Labs.

Physicians in the skull base lab

Research

A broad spectrum of activities are directed toward improving the quality of our patient care and toward developing novel, innovative therapies. Through investigator-initiated trials, as well as national cooperative group, and industry-funded trials, department faculty are able to offer our patients access to cutting-edge treatments not otherwise available.

Department Highlights

Matt Alef (Vascular Surgery) recently teamed up for a collaboration with Drs. Mary Cushman (Medicine) and Neil Zakai (Medicine) to submit the grant, “Understanding and Treating Venous Leg Ulcers.” 

Brian Sprague, PhD, Division of Surgical Research, was awarded a Health Services Research Pilot Grant from the Larner College of Medicine, for his proposal, “Evaluation of a cancer risk assessment questionnaire to guide cancer screening decision-making in primary care.”

Bruce Leavitt, MD (Cardiothoracic Surgery) and a team of 10 from UVM, are part of Team Heart, a nonprofit focused on bringing cardiac care to people in Rwanda.  Watch the WCAX segment


Departmental News

Study First to Show Benefit of 3D Mammography in Reducing Late-stage Breast Cancer

July 6, 2022 by Kate Strotmeyer

In a Journal of American Medical Association study, researchers - including UVM Professor and UVM Cancer Center member Brian Sprague, Ph.D. - found that 3D screening with digital breast tomosynthesis had certain benefits compared to breast cancer screening with conventional 2D digital mammography.

(Graphic courtesy of Brian Sprague)

When 3D mammography or digital breast tomosythesis (DBT) was developed and approved by the FDA in 2011, the hope was it would improve detection of breast cancer in women with dense breasts and decrease anxiety-inducing false-positive results. 

In a study of 504,427 women undergoing more than 1.3 screening mammograms – the first study of this size and scope - UVM Cancer Center member and Larner College of Medicine associate professor Brian Sprague, PhD teamed up with four other mammography registries across the country in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium to see if 3D screening made a difference.

As published in the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers found that 3D screening with digital breast tomosynthesis had certain benefits compared to breast cancer screening with conventional 2D digital mammography. For one, the false-positive rate was lower for digital breast tomosynthesis than for conventional 2D digital mammography.  And, among women with dense breasts and at high risk of breast cancer, the rate of late-stage breast cancer was reduced among those undergoing digital breast tomosynthesis compared to those undergoing 2D digital mammography.  

The first of its size, the study shows that 3D screening can reduce the false positive rate for all women and provide a reduction in late-stage breast cancer for the small group of women with dense breasts and high breast cancer risk.  The findings suggest that women with dense breasts and high breast cancer risk should be offered 3D screening to reduce their risk of a late-stage diagnosis, and all women and healthcare providers should be aware of the benefit of reduced false positive rates with 3D screening. 

The group's ongoing research will assess the long term benefits of 3D screening compared to 2D mammography after multiple rounds of screening for individual women.  

Related: 

Breast density, what you need to know 
Breast cancer: what we know today  

Upcoming Events

Surgery Grand Rounds is held every Thursday during the academic year (September - June) in the Davis Auditorium from 7:30-8:30 am followed by M&M Conference from 8:30-9:30 am.

Visit the detailed department calendar >>