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A breast abnormality on an exam or mammogram raises many emotions and concerns. The next step is usually to undergo a biopsy procedure. Prior to 1995, most women in Chattanooga in need of breast biopsy were sent to the operating room. University Surgical Associates (USA) was the first to bring innovative technology that allowed breast biopsy to be done in an outpatient setting using local anesthesia. Today, USA Breast Services is excited to once again be at the forefront of new, even more advanced technology with the Hologic Affirm 3D breast biopsy system. The new system is located in the USA office on Gunbarrel Road and allows for better imaging, faster targeting and fewer x-rays, resulting in shorter procedure time and reduced radiation exposure.  

“In simple terms, a biopsy is a procedure where a small amount of tissue is taken from the body to be examined more closely. If your mammogram shows an area that needs further evaluation, one of the biopsy techniques available through USA Breast Services is stereotactic breast biopsy,” says Laura Witherspoon, M.D., breast surgeon with USA and medical director, Erlanger Center for Breast Health. “We use computer aided technology to guide a needle to the exact point of the abnormality that was picked up by the mammogram. Images are taken from many different angles to ensure the sample of tissue is removed from the correct location.” 

Precise and Comfortable Care

Patients having the biopsy lie prone on the table. The ergonomically engineered cushions provide custom, targeted pressure-point support to improve comfort. “Our patients who have had biopsies on both tables rave about how much more comfortable the new table is,” says USA mammography technologist Jennifer Smith. 

The Hologic breast biopsy system uses 3D imaging to scan the breast in just a few seconds, producing a 360-degree view to pinpoint the exact location for the tissue sample. The surgeon scrolls through the images, marks the target area on the screen, and is able to precisely position the biopsy device. A small incision is made, and the needle is advanced to the exact point of concern. A few samples are taken to ensure there’s enough for diagnosis, and a tiny marker is placed at the biopsy site. USA surgeons can biopsy areas that previously would have required surgery and complete them more quickly and more comfortably than ever before. This form of biopsy is a less invasive alternative to surgical biopsy, requires little recovery time, and scarring is minimal to none. 

“This advanced technology allows surgeons to do more than ever before with stereotactic breast biopsy, and it means we can provide an enhanced level of care for women with suspicious lesions. In years past, lesions in hard to access areas meant patients had to choose between waiting three to six months to see if the lesion changed and going to surgery for a definitive answer,” says W. Todd Cockerham, MD, USA breast surgeon. “The Hologic system helps us accurately identify and biopsy suspected lesions, determine whether an abnormality in the breast is cancer or benign, and offer patients greater peace of mind throughout the process.” 

What to Expect 

After a stereotactic breast biopsy, samples taken will be sent to a pathologist for complete analysis. We understand that this can be a difficult time of waiting. That’s why results of the biopsy are available within 24-48 hours from the time it’s performed. When necessary, the surgeons at USA Breast Services perform breast cancer surgery and coordinate breast cancer care and therapy with other specialists. They also offer unique services that include facilitating referrals for specific therapies, support groups, risk assessment and counseling, breast health education, enrollment in clinical trials and much more. 

At University Surgical Associates, we are committed to providing the best possible patient care. For more information about our comprehensive breast services or to schedule an appointment for risk assessment, breast biopsy or surgical consultation, please call (423) 267-0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: Breast Cancer

Hixson Demo Day

December 17th, 2018

Out with the old. In with the new. Construction is underway in the new USA Hixson Office. 

USA's Christy Westmoreland scouts out the spot for the first sledgehammer hit for Dr. Ben Kellogg

Dr. Robert Jean and nurse Wendy Featherston  

The team discussing features of the new office

Pictured L to R: 
Wendy Featherston, RN (nurse for Dr. Jean),  Christy Westmoreland, RN (Satellite Operations Mgr),  General surgeons Dr. Jean & Dr. Kellogg,
Marsha Bock, RVT (USA COO), Craig Sarine (USA CEO)

“As the new year approaches, USA is focused on expanding our presence in the region, including a newly designed space that will accommodate more physicians and enhance our ability to provide exceptional surgical care to individuals who live and work in the Hixson and Soddy Daisy areas,” says Craig Sarine, University Surgical Associates CEO.


To kick off the construction,USA employees held a ‘demo day’ where Dr. Robert Jean and Dr. Benjamin Kellogg along with their staff donned hard hats and sledgehammers to begin demo on a wall that will be torn down in the office.


“After many months of working in a temporary office, we are looking forward to finally getting into our permanent home in the Hixson area. This was an important step in that process,”says Sarine. “Since we didn’t have any ground to break, we decided to break a wall. It was actually kind of fun to see the old go down, clearing the way for our new space.”


The USA Hixson office is locatedin the Physician’s Office Building on the campus of CHI Memorial Hospital –Hixson at 2051 Hamill Road, Hixson, Tennessee, Suite 108. The larger officespace, just down the hall in Suite 101, will open in early 2019, offering alarger lobby area and more exam rooms. 


With the expanded office space, Dr. Robert Jean, general surgeon with USA, will have full time office hours at Hixson. Dr. Erica Clark (vascular surgeon), Dr. Benjamin E. Kellogg(general surgeon), Dr. Eric C. Nelson (colorectal surgeon), and Dr. L. Richard Sprouse II (vascular surgeon) will also continue to see patients at this location. 


“I’m very excited about establishing ourselves in Hixson so we can continue to provide the kind of high-quality care that USA is known for across the entire Chattanooga and Hamilton County region,” says Dr. Jean. “We’re thrilled about the opportunity to meet the growing need in the area and partner with physicians in the region to provide timely, effective and convenient surgical care.”

Posted by University Surgical | Topic: News  | Category: news

Welcome, Dr. Murray!

December 12th, 2018

University Surgical Associates is excited to welcome Craig A. Murray, M.D., FACS to the general surgery team providing care for adults in North Georgia. 

Dr. Murray comes to USA from Albany, Georgia, where he has been in private practice for 15 years. He and his wife, Kimberly, a pharmacist, have been married 17 years. They have three boys – a high schooler, a middle schooler and a kindergartener, who Dr. Murray calls a late blessing! 

“We were very drawn to Chattanooga for two reasons – better educational opportunities for our sons and proximity to the many scenic locations this area offers,” says Dr. Murray. “As a family, we love being active, and that includes snow skiing, hiking and spending time outdoors. It was also very appealing to join with USA as they expand their services into the North Georgia region, where I believe I can be helpful in establishing high quality surgical services in an underserved area.” 

Dr. Murray earned his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Murray began his practice and became affiliated with the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, where he served as Vice President of Medical Staff and Clinical Associate Professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

He is a member of the American College of Surgeons and has medical licenses in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Dr. Murray comes to University Surgical Associates with nearly 16 years of general surgery experience where he specializes in advanced minimally invasive surgery, including robotic-assisted procedures. 

Currently, Dr. Murray sees patients and performs minor surgeries at the USA Surgical Specialties Building at 2108 E. 3rd Street in Chattanooga and performs planned and emergency surgery at Erlanger, CHI Memorial and Parkridge. USA has plans to open another satellite office on Battlefield Parkway in the coming months.  

Advanced Surgical Care

University Surgical Associates' general surgeons manage adult general surgery issues from appendicitis to gallbladder disease, hernias and breast disease, as well as a wide range of surgical services including intraabdominal, gastrointestinal, cancer, endocrine, breast, and blood vessels. In his practice, Dr. Murray specializes in advanced minimally invasive surgery, robotic hernia repair, gallbladder disease, colon resection, appendicitis, abdominal wall defect, breast surgery, and anti-reflux procedures. 

“The problem-solving mentality has always been one of my favorite parts of surgery – finding a solution to a problem is really satisfying. I also love medicine and the combination of working with my hands to help people,” says Dr. Murray. “Running into my patients out in the community and seeing they’ve returned to their normal lives after surgery is the most gratifying part of my job. I feel blessed to do this every day.” 

“We are excited to have a physician of Dr. Murray’s caliber join USA. His surgical skill, expertise and patient care philosophy make him a welcome addition to our team,” says Michael S. Greer, M.D., president of University Surgical Associates. “As we move to offer our services to a wider number of people who live and work in the surrounding Chattanooga area, Dr. Murray is an excellent representative for the quality of care University Surgical Associates has always been known for in this community. Bringing these much-needed services and a surgeon of this caliber to North Georgia is a high priority for our practice.” 

“Personalized patient care and putting my patients’ needs first has always been the focus of my surgical practice, and I’m thrilled to maintain that type of physician/patient relationship at University Surgical Associates,” says Dr. Murray. “USA is comprised of some the most well trained and highest quality surgeons who I believe practice medicine the way I do. I’m excited to join these likeminded physicians and to continue the long track record they have of providing exceptional and innovative surgical care.” 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Murray, call 423.267.0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: general surgery