Conversations with Rod

USC Comprehensive Aortic Center Drives Surgical Innovations in Heart and Blood Vessel Care

Originally published June 19, 2023

Last updated May 3, 2024

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Rod Hanners, CEO of Keck Medicine of USC, talks with Fernando Fleischman, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Sukgu Han, a vascular surgeon with Keck Medicine.

Rod Hanners, CEO of Keck Medicine of USC, talks with Dr. Fernando Fleischman and Dr. Sukgu Han about the collaborative surgical work at the USC Comprehensive Aortic Center.

“Conversations with Rod” is a video series featuring  Rod Hanners, CEO of  Keck Medicine of USC, talking with our doctors about our innovative medical care and research. In this video, Hanners sat down with the co-directors of the USC Comprehensive Aortic CenterDr. Fernando Fleischman, cardiothoracic surgeon, and Dr. Sukgu Han, a vascular surgeon — to discuss special collaborations in treating blood vessel conditions. Watch the full video below — or read excerpts from their conversation. 

Interview Excerpts 

What kind of patients do you see in the USC Comprehensive Aortic Center?

Fernando Fleischman, MD: We see patients with any aortic problem, basically from the beginning of the aorta, all the way down to where it branches off to your femoral arteries or in your groin. We take care of every part and every aspect of the aorta. 

What stands out about the USC Comprehensive Aortic Center and makes it different?

Sukgu Han, MD: The administration at Keck Medicine has really given us the opportunity and the freedom to build a team that is specialized in aortic care. We have expertise, and the tools and access to technology that other centers in the region don’t. We’re definitely proud to say we’re ahead of the curve on that. 

How unique is the partnership between a cardiothoracic surgeon and a vascular surgeon?

FF: For some reason, cardiac and vascular surgeons have not been the best of friends in the past. Dr. Han and I are, and I think it is unique. It’s very, very, very rare. There are few other centers that have people, two surgeons, who trust each other the way we do. I don’t know of any. And we’ve actually spoken at multiple conferences just on how to collaborate.

And it just doesn’t seem to work for others, but it works for us. I think the proof is really in the productivity and the collaboration that happens and with the results that we’re getting in our performance of the center in multiple clinical trials. 

What are you doing in the center to advance minimally invasive surgical techniques?

FF: We’re pushing the innovation forward, and we are able to offer minimally invasive techniques for things that traditionally required massive open surgery. We still, obviously, offer the open surgery, but these new techniques have given us a tremendous amount of growth. And Dr. Han has been amazing in his fenestrated techniques. He’s able to use his engineering mind to build devices that are patient specific. It’s really impressive to watch. 

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Rod Hanners
Rod Hanners is CEO of Keck Medicine of USC.

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