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The Division of Colon & Rectal Surgery is actively engaged in teaching and training medical students, residents and fellows.

Comprehensive residency

Our division has an ACGME-accredited residency position in our one-year residency training program in Colon and Rectal Surgery. Our program is located at a single hospital (the University of California Irvine Medical Center) and is designed to prepare the trainee for an advanced practice in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 

We have a nationally recognized faculty that is highly interested in the training of our fellow. Access to faculty and the program director is emphasized. During the year, assessment frequently occurs to evaluate how we can tailor the educational experience to the trainee’s ongoing needs. Significant educational resources are in place to assist in training including office space, free textbooks, an iPad, computers and electronic journal access through the University of California system. We have a structured series of lectures, conferences and journal clubs throughout the year. We emphasize maintaining a good balance between educational experience and clinical service. Duty hours are strictly monitored.

Our practice emphasizes advanced surgical techniques in all aspects of Colon and Rectal Surgery. Our group is very active in evaluating and adopting new surgical approaches and technology, and we participate in (and often lead) clinical trials. In the area of colon and rectal cancer, the trainee will become proficient in robotic surgery, laparoscopic surgery and the approach to recurrent colon and rectal cancer. The trainee will learn advanced techniques such as laparoscopic intracorporeal anastomosis and transanal specimen extraction. Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEM) is utilized and “Reverse” (transanal) TME is performed. Minimally invasive approaches to recurrent cancer are also applied when appropriate and intraoperative radiation therapy is utilized in specific cases. The trainee will learn the multidisciplinary approach to colon and rectal cancer through participation in tumor board and lectures from nationally recognized experts at our NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our faculty performs Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) with peritoneal cytoreduction in select cases.

We also have a busy practice in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and benefit from being associated with an active Gastroenterology practice in IBD at our institution. We emphasize minimally invasive approaches to IBD treatment and a collaborative approach with our colleagues in Gastroenterology. Our fellows routinely exceed the required case numbers for ileal pouch surgery and leave the program comfortable performing totally laparoscopic restorative proctocolectomy.

In terms of pelvic floor surgery, we offer endoanal ultrasound, anal manometry, pelvic floor physical therapy and excellent collaboration with our colleagues in Urogynecology. Fellows will become facile at Sacral Nerve Stimulation therapy, clinic-based Peripheral Nerve Evaluations, injection of bulking agents and overlapping sphincter repair. Fellows finish the program able to perform standard and advanced techniques in rectal prolapse surgery such as robotic ventral mesh rectopexy.

During the year, the trainee is expected to participate in a research project. For that project, we have resources including a statistician, SAS/SPSS programs, clinical databases (Nationwide Inpatient Sample, National Surgical Quality Improvement Project, California Cancer Registry, University Health Consortium), and collaborative research fellows.  We also provide financial support for travel to academic meetings to present research. Faculty will assist throughout the year in research design and publication. This can serve as an excellent springboard to an academic surgical practice if the trainee desires.

After training at our program, fellows have gone on to busy academic and private practice environments. Our goal is for trainees to leave the program ready to launch into a highly successful career.

Thank you very much for your interest in our program!

Alessio Pigazzi MD, PhD, FACS
Program Director, Colon & Rectal Surgery Residency


The division is also one of a select few centers in the United States to offer mini-fellowships to train established surgeons in the techniques of minimally invasive colectomy procedures. Our two-day course focuses on patient selection, procedural indications and contraindications, procedural techniques and methods on how to manage potential complications.

Participants have the opportunity to practice hands-on, in both inanimate and cadaver labs, as well as to observe a live surgery and attend comprehensive lectures with leading colorectal surgeons.