Thoracic Surgery

Our goal is to provide exceptional, up-to-date, and coordinated care delivered in a timely and compassionate manner.

Our board-certified surgeons are equipped with the latest techniques for dealing with benign and malignant conditions of the lung, chest wall, and esophagus.

Lung Cancer

Minimally invasive techniques allow us to deal with lung cancer in a manner that maximizes patient comfort and minimizes hospital stays. Superdimension navigational bronchoscopy uses GPS technology to pinpoint even small tumors deep in the lung. Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) allows us to sample lymph nodes in the center of the chest without the need for incisions. Our experts can then employ either VATS or robotic lobectomies to remove the cancer through small incisions without spreading the ribs. Less than half of patients with lung cancer in the US have access to some of these advanced techniques.

Learn more about lung cancer

Esophageal Cancer

We are committed to providing compassionate care for every stage of esophageal cancer. Working hand-in-hand with a multidisciplinary team, we are involved in formulating an individualized care plan for each patient. Furthermore, we are one of the few centers in the region with expertise in minimally-invasive esophagectomy (MIE), an advanced technique that permits us to remove esophageal cancers through small incisions.

Cancer of the esophagus facts

  • Fastest growing cancer in the US
  • Seventh highest cause of cancer deaths
  • 1 new cancer diagnosed every 30 mins
  • 18,000 new cases expected in 2013
  • Early diagnosis leads to the best chance of cure

Risk factors

  • Age older than 65
  • Smoking
  • Heavy drinking
  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Acid Reflux
  • Barrett's Esophagus

Reflux and cancer risk

  • Persistent reflux bathes the GE junction in acid
  • The esophagus compensates by trying to make its surface more acid resistant
  • Cells begin to change to a different type of lining
  • These changes are known as Barrett’s disease
  • Not all reflux leads to Barrett's!


  • No symptoms in the early stages
  • Food gets stuck, and may come back up
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Severe heartburn
  • Persistent pain in the lower chest or back
  • Unexplained weight loss

How is the diagnosis made?

  • Barium swallow
  • Endoscopy with biopsies

Cancer staging

(Staging helps the doctors decide the best treatment)

  • Stage I - barely penetrates the inner lining
  • Stage II and III - deeper penetration, may involve surrounding lymph nodes
  • Stage IV - chemotherapy

Cancer treatment options

  • Stage I - surgery
  • Stage II and III - chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery
  • Stage IV - chemotherapy

Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy

  • Removing the cancer through small incisions
  • Pros: less pain, lower complication rates, decreased length of stay, same cancer survival
  • Cons: Need for specialized training and centers, so not widely available
  • Hartford Hospital is on of the few centers in the region to offer this advanced technique

Learn more about esophageal cancer

Other Thoracic Diseases

We deal with a lot of complex esophageal and airway problems using endoscopic and laser interventions. We also offer evaluation and treatment for many other conditions within the neck, chest and upper abdomen, including:

  • Thymomas
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Carcinoids
  • Mediastinal cysts
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Paraesophageal hernias
  • Esophageal (Zenker's) diverticula
  • GERD
  • Pectus deformities
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome

Meet Our Thoracic Surgeons

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Name Specialties Location
Kachala, Stefan, MD
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • General Surgery
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  • New Britain
  • Meriden
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Katigbak, Mario Winn, MD
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Hartford
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
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McKelvey, Alicia Ann, MD, FACS, FCCP
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
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  • Hartford

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Thoracic Surgery