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August 10, 1993

A thoracic surgeon who has been involved in perfecting video-assisted surgical procedures for the chest has joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine as an associate professor and chair of the cardiothoracic surgery division.
[Note: He has since been promoted to professor.] Stephen R. Hazelrigg, M.D., Dr. Stephen Hazelrigg portrait comes to the School from Milwaukee, Wis, where he has been in a private practice since 1990.

A native of Jacksonville, Hazelrigg earned his medical degree at SIU (1983) and completed general surgery training at the Yale University Affiliated Hospitals in Bridgeport, Conn., (1985) and at SIU in Springfield (1988). He completed training in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics in Columbia (1990). He earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry at Knox College in Galesburg (1980).

The success surgeons had with laparoscopic surgery in the abdomen attracted the attention of thoracic surgeons who wondered if the techniques and instruments cculd be used in surgeries involving the chest, lungs and heart, explained Hazelrigg, who has been researching this application since his residency at Missouri.

"This surgery when done in the chest is known as thoracoscopic surgery and is similar to that done in the abdomen. In the procedure, more accurately known as video-assisted thoracic surgery, we make very small incisions betwen the ribs, then insert the thoracoscope, a thin tube containing a video camera," he explained.

"We can do a lot of things to the structures in the chest using this technique. And it's even better for the chest because the pain associated with the thoracotomy, the alternative procedure in which a large incision is made in the chest and the ribs are spread, is mush more acute than it is with abdominal surgery," he said.

Because of his early experience with thoracoscopy and his research into its application, Hazelrigg was invited by the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons and the Society of Thoracic Surgery to be part of a team for training other thoracic surgeons in the procedure. He also has been invited to teach the procedure to thoracic surgeons in Asia, Europe and South America.

At SIU, Hazelrigg will continue his research into applications for thoracoscopy. "The field is really only three or four years old; it blossomed after the technique was proven in abdominal surgery. Clearly it works and it works well. We want to figure out where we ought to be using it rather than other methods," he said.

"My main interests will be to institute scientific studies related to thoracoscopy and to teach medical students and residents more about cardiac and thoracic surgery. It is important even for those who are going into primary care specialties to have a good understanding of cardiac and thoracic physiology," he explained. He also will develop a clinical practice in cardiac, thoracic and esophageal surgery.

Hazelrigg is an associate member of the American College of Surgeons, a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and is board certified in cardiothoracic surgery. His recent writings and presentations have focused on the use of thoracoscopic surgery for treating illnesses of the chest and lungs.

Hazelrigg is the son of Donald Hazelrigg of Jacksonville and Mrs. Norma Lawley of Springfield. He and his wife, the former Sharon Fifer of Chatham, have two children