Celebrated Physician: Luis Hernandez, MD
There’s no such thing as a “routine” surgery, even for procedures that have been performed thousands of times. But that doesn’t stop MedStar Washington Hospital Center surgeons such as Luis Hernandez, MD, from trying to make operations as simple and risk-free as possible for patients.
Dr. Hernandez is a colorectal surgeon with the MedStar Colorectal Surgery Program, based at the Hospital Center. He says robotic technology has been particularly advantageous for pelvic procedures, including rectal cancer and prolapse. Dr. Hernandez says space in the pelvis area is extremely limited, so using a surgical robot’s high-definition visualization with precise maneuverability is extremely valuable for the intricacies of delicate and complex surgeries.
“We are always pushing the envelope on performing the same surgery with more minimally invasive maneuvers and technology,” Dr. Hernandez says, “whether it’s laparoscopy or robotics.”
Minimally Invasive Surgery
That’s why Dr. Hernandez is particularly excited about the latest addition to the Hospital Center’s array of advanced surgical tools—the da Vinci® Xi™ surgical system, which features a 3D HD vision system and wristed instruments that bend and rotate well beyond the human hand’s capabilities.
“It’s also less bulky and easier to set up than other robotic systems, and allows for easier access for multiple abdominal quadrant surgery,” he adds.
Dr. Hernandez enjoys having a broad array of approaches to complex surgery—whether it be laparoscopy, robotic, or traditional open surgery—to helping patients overcome colon cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
“I enjoyed the concept of potentially curing some patients from this disease surgically if they were diagnosed early enough,” he says. “At the same time, I can support those patients dealing with chronic conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”
Dr. Hernandez is quick to add, however, that the path toward making a diagnosis and choosing an optimal course of treatment is not always easy. He recalls caring for a very young patient who, because of a complicated presentation, was nearly overlooked for cancer.
“It made an impression on me to always consider all diagnosis regardless of age or presentation,” he says. “That’s why I emphasize careful history-taking and physical exam, because it tells a story that labs and X-rays can’t always put together for you.”
A Biology Course Led to Medicine
Born in New York and raised in Florida, Dr. Hernandez traces his interest in medicine as a career to a high school course in advanced biology. “I was amazed by the human body and all its intricacies,” he says. “That experience drove me to major in biology in college, with a pre-med focus.”
After graduating from Florida State University College of Medicine, Dr. Hernandez performed his surgical residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, and a fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Because no one is immune to colon cancer, Dr. Hernandez is a strong proponent of high-fiber, low-fat diets and regular exercise, an example he tries to set by staying physically active through running and travel. He also urges patients to undergo colonoscopies for early detection of polyps and other pre-cancerous warning signs.
And if the diagnosis is cancer, surgery may not necessarily be a patient’s only option.
“Our colorectal surgery and oncology groups are participating in rectal cancer research to help determine who may or may not need to undergo surgery versus just chemoradiotherapy,” Dr. Hernandez says. “Minimally invasive procedures are good, but having no procedures at all may be the future.
Have any questions?
Contact us for more information about Dr. Luis Hernandez III or to schedule an appointment. Call us at 202-877-3627.
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