Robotic Surgery
Clinical Trials
Cardiothoracic Surgery

Crabtree also is the Medical Director of the Surgical Skills Laboratory at Southern Illinois University (SIU) Medicine and a national leader in minimally invasive lung cancer surgery.

Before returning to Springfield, Illinois, where he graduated from the SIU School of Medicine, he worked at the Alvin-Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis.

The cardiothoracic team at Simmons focuses on lung and esophageal cancers, performing most of the resections with minimally invasive procedures.

Quick Fact:
Dr. Crabtree was awarded his first fellowship at the University of Virginia for Surgical Research in Infectious Disease.

Crabtree treats esophageal cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, enlarged lymph nodes and lung volume reduction issues.

He was part of the team at the Alvin Siteman Cancer Center that performed the first full-lung lobectomy in the region with robotic surgery and high-definition 3-D cameras to provide the greatest precision possible.

Using SBRT as Standard Care?

Crabtree also has been at the forefront of the ongoing debate between the newest stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for lung cancer and the surgical resection option with high-risk patients.

Crabtree was lead chair for a two-day Continuing Medical Education course titled “State of the Art Management and Controversies in Early Stage Lung Cancer.”

The audience included medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists and those caring for lung cancer patients. The course centered on understanding issues in regard to prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. The goal was to increase the knowledge, competence and skill for all health care providers.

As part of the course, Crabtree spoke extensively and led the discussion regarding the best course of treatment for various stages of lung cancer. In a debate format regarding the treatment of Stage I Lung Cancer, he presented “Surgery Should Be the Standard of Care,” while a colleague took the “SBRT Should Be Standard Care,” side of the issue.

Clinical Trials

Crabtree was selected, in part, because of his recent work. In 2010, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery published his study that compared short-term outcomes between the two competing therapies.

The unmatched comparison included surgical patients who were healthier overall and had better local tumor control than patients receiving stereotactic body radiation therapy with stage 1A disease.

The study included 462 patients who underwent surgery and 76 who received SBRT. The surgical patients were younger with better pulmonary function to start. In an unmatched comparison, the five-year survival rate was 55 percent with surgery, compared to just a 32 percent survival after three years with SBRT.

Yet in a propensity analysis that matched 57 high-risk surgical patients to 57 patients undergoing SBRT, there was little difference in freedom from local tumor recurrence, disease-free survival and overall survival at three years.

In a 2011 study with the same two therapies, Crabtree compared the relative cost-effectiveness with clinical stage I lung cancer. The SBRT was estimated to have a mean expected survival of 2.94 years at a cost of $14,153. The mean expected survival with surgery was 3.39 years at a cost of $17,629 – for an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $7,753.

Quick Fact:
An estimated 220,000 people are diagnosed annually in the United States with lung cancer, which also is responsible for 27% of all cancer deaths, claiming more lives each year than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

The conclusion was that SBRT was less costly than surgical intervention for high-risk patients, but the surgical option still met the cost-effectiveness standard because of a longer expected survival rate.

Crabtree lists his areas of clinical interest as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), esophageal cancer, general thoracic surgery, mediastinal surgery and pleural disease surgery.

Dr. Traves Crabtree’s Publications

In 2011 alone he published on topics like radial artery harvesting, sternoclavicular joint infections, mitral valve repair and the use of retrograde tube gastrostomy after an esophagectomy.