KNOWN AS THE “GOLDEN HANDS,” DR. SHERIF ANDRAWES, DIRECTOR OF GASTROENTEROLOGY, HEPATOLOGY, AND NUTRITION AT STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL DISCUSSES HOW GROUNDBREAKING ADVANCEMENTS IN GI CARE ARE MAKING A TREMENDOUS DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF STATEN ISLAND PATIENTS

BY AMANDA McCOY PHOTOS BY AMESSE PHOTOGRAPHY

When Sherif Andrawes, MD, a board-certified gastroenterolo gist, joined Staten Island University Hospital in 2014, advanced therapeutic and interventional endoscopy was still in its infancy. At the time, GI physicians employed simple endoscopy (a nonsurgi cal procedure that uses a long, flexible tube to examine the digestive tract) to diagnose a variety of GI conditions such as large polyps, blockages of the GI tract, and both precancerous and cancerous tumors of the digestive tract. After a positive diagnosis, the patient would then be referred to a surgeon for treatment. Dr. Andrawes believed in a different approach: what if, through advanced therapeutic endoscopy, specialized gastroenterologists could noninvasively treat GI diseases, preserving the organ and significantly reducing recovery time? Ten years ago, it was still a novel concept, but today Dr. Andrawes and his team have performed thousands of advanced endoscopic procedures on Staten Island patients with successful outcomes.

“I am proud to say a majority of our advanced GI cases are minimally invasive and organ-sparing,” noted Dr. Andrawes, who currently serves as SIUH’s Director of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. “In the past, when a GI doctor saw an issue or precancerous growth in the digestive tract, they would send that patient to a surgeon to remove the affected tissue. With therapeutic endoscopy, we can offer patients additional treatment options that are both minimally invasive and curative, making a tremendous difference in the patient’s quality of life.

In the decade since joining the hospital, Dr. Andrawes has recruited and trained a team of fellows to become GI physi cians and advanced therapeutic physicians. The majority of the dozen trainees have chosen to remain on Staten Island, a testament to the tight-knit culture created by Dr. Andrawes. “We truly live and breathe our discipline,” he said. “Every member of my team is dedicated to this craft in our local community. We are available almost 365 days a year, which could not be achieved unless we truly loved what we do.”

Together, the team specializes in complex care for a multitude of GI diseases, including acute pancreatitis, biliary tract diseases, acid reflux, Barrett’s esophagus, motility problems of the GI tract, precancerous growth and cancer treatment throughout the GI tract, minimally invasive endoscopic resections, sampling for pathology, and a variety of different procedures to tackle some of the most complex situations that may affect a patient’s quality of life. “A lot of these techniques are only found in highly specialized centers in Japan and Europe,” noted the doctor. “There’s maybe one to two centers in the U.S., and now it’s provided in our own backyard.”

Early cancer detection is also a cornerstone of Dr. Andrawes’ practice. In many cases, his team is able to catch tumors before there is time to grow and spread. “We once saw a patient who was coming in for gallbladder surgery due to pain in the area,” noted Dr. Andrawes. “The radiologist performed an MRI, but while he didn’t see a clear tumor, the images showed something irregular and abnormal, but no clear answer. We performed an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and found a very early stage of pancreatic cancer. With our state-of-the-art equipment here at SIUH, the image was clear and this was caught very early; the patient was then treated with surgery and today she’s cured.”

Dr. Andrawes recalled another case, a patient in his 70’s who had an early-localized cancerous growth within his esophagus. “His surgeon in Manhattan wanted to go in surgically and cut out the affected tissue, removing a majority of his esophagus. The patient was worried that he wouldn’t be able to eat normally afterwards.” At SIUH, we were able to remove the growth utilizing a minimally invasive technique called endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD). Seven years later, there’s no evidence of regrowth and the patient retained his natural anatomy.

SIUH’s gastroenterology program has gained worldwide recognition as one of the premiere institutions for advanced therapeutic gastroenterology, including First Place in NYSGE’s Fellows Night Endoscopy Video in 2019. Dr. Andrawes created a nationally recognized advanced fellowship to train gastroenterologists in advanced therapeutic endoscopy. He’s frequently invited to speak and share his expertise at clinical conferences across the country, and this past September, approximately 200 doctors from around the country tuned in to Dr. Andrawes’ 8th Annual Bronx Live Endoscopy Course. “The most important thing to note is I’m not a one-hand operation that does it all,” noted Dr. Andrawes, whose nurses refer to him as the golden hands. “I’m part of a team: my nurses, my physician assistants, my office team and manager, the brilliant and talented surgeons I work closely with, my caring oncology colleagues, and the vigilant GI doctors in the community who refer these patients to me. Together, we make an enormous difference in our patients’ lives.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Andrawes noted the program is still actively expanding, staying current on advancements in technology, therapies, and techniques. A new, state-of-the art therapeutic endoscopy room has opened, an exciting milestone for the team. “We always seek out the latest and greatest technology to further enhance patient care, and this new room is equipped to handle any new tech that comes in,” Dr. Andrawes explained, noting the team’s procedural catalog will continue to expand as they pursue more organ-preserving procedures. “Patients know if they come to us, we will take care of them like they are one of our own family members.”

Northwell Health Physician Partners Gastroenterology at

Hylan Boulevard 4106 Hylan Boulevard

718.226.7855 / northwell.edu/gastroenterology