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Washington Health System Welcomes Home Dr. Julie Ann Corcorane
By Daniel Casciato


Earlier this summer, Washington Health System welcomed Julie Ann Corcoran, D.O., a talented general surgeon to its Washington Physicians Group. Dr. Corcoran returns home to Western Pennsylvania after spending time at Blount Memorial Hospital in Tennessee, where she served as chairman of the department of surgery and the chairman of trauma.

A graduate of John Carroll University and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, she is experienced in many aspects of general surgery, trauma, minimally invasive surgery and robotic assisted surgery. Dr. Corcoran chose general surgery because she describes herself as a person who really likes to build and repair things.

“Being able to help people in the sense of repairing a problem or removing something that needs to be taken out is really a draw for me,” she says. “I'm also very curious as to why and how things work. I like problem solving. Trying to work up a diagnosis and figure out the mystery to help someone is very intriguing to me and something I've always been drawn to.”

One of the advantages to having robotic assisted surgery is the wide variety of advanced instruments. As opposed to standard laparoscopic surgery, the ends of the instruments are actually wristed—similar to the actual wrist on your hand. This means that the instrument end rotates in a 360 degree circle. It can also bend, twist, and extend. Laparoscopic instruments do not have this same versatility. Dr. Corcoran says. “It cannot move in all the same directions as a robotic instrument. Robotics mimics open surgery more because of that wristed ability, which acts more like your hands.”

Another benefit to robotic assisted surgery is that the camera is a 3D camera which gives surgeons a more realistic view of the procedure instead of viewing it on a flat screen.

“With robotics, you're going to have smaller incisions, a decreased risk of hernia and a decreased risk of infection compared to open surgery,” Dr. Corcoran adds. “Also, with robotic surgery, in most cases you have less pain and a reduced recovery time, which gets you back to work and your normal activities faster. An added benefit is the reduced need for pain medication.”

What Dr. Corcoran enjoys most about being a general surgeon is the ability to meet and help people while getting to learn a little bit about them and their personality.

“I think the social aspect of being a physician is very important. I try to understand my patient's perspective, so I can make sure to answer all of their questions, prepare them for surgery, do the best I can to prepare them for the post-op course, and make sure they are fully aware of what to expect,” she says. “I really enjoy getting to impact people's lives and make their lives better.”

Breast health is another key focus of Dr. Corcoran’s practice. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, she encourages women to get screened and have a mammogram.

“Over the years, with amazing advancements in medicine, we have determined ways to prevent and detect things like cancer, in early stages,” she says. “If you can prevent or find illnesses and cancers early, you can decrease the number of procedures you may need, decrease the severity of treatment, decrease your medical bills and you increase your chance of survival. Mammograms have come a long way and the technology is better than ever. The abnormalities that they can find are so small, it’s amazing! Plus, if you can stop something before it progresses, why wouldn't you?”

She also stresses the importance for men to get checked too.

“I always make a point of reminding people that mean get breast cancer too,” she says. “Often in breast cancer people forget that men have breasts and they can get breast cancer. We want to make sure that men talk to their physician and bring it to someone's attention if they have something that doesn't seem right.”

For more information, visit whs.org

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