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On 9-11 June 2023, the first UGIRA Congress ‘A Leap in Technology, a Leap of Faith’ was organized in Taiwan, in conjunction with the 6th Annual Meeting of the Taiwan Society of Thoracic Surgeons by congress president Yin-Kai Chao (www.ugira-taiwan.org). We thank all participants for their presence and look forward to next year’s UGIRA Congress in Pittsburgh, USA! 


We are happy to announce that Franziska Renger from the HELIOS Klinikum Berlin will be our next UGIRA Fellow in 2023-2024. Congratulations to Franziska; we are looking forward to working with you!

UGIRA strives to organize the Fellowship on a regular basis. Keep an eye on our website to stay informed on future opportunities!

On 9-10 June, the 2nd Porthsmouth Robotic Upper GI Course will be organized. The course includes hands-on cadaveric training, live operating, simulations, and expert lectures. The Royal College of Surgeons of England has awarded 12 CPD points. A course dinner is included. Click here to open the course flyer.

On 5 March 2022, the hands-on MD Anderson Robotic D2 Gastrectomy Course was organized in Houston (program directors Naruhiko Ikoma & Brian Badgwell). The course was endorsed by UGIRA and a pre-course to the IGCC Congress that was organized in Houston on 6-9 March 2022. Click here to visit the website or here to download the program. 

On October 7-8th 2021, the annual Utrecht ESSO course on Minimally Invasive Gastrectomy and Esophagectomy was organized once again! European surgeons (given corona restrictions surgeons outside Europe unfortunately were not able to attend) received lectures and cadaver lab training in conventional and robotic minimally invasive surgery for esophagogastric cancer. Keep an eye on the ESSO website for the 2022 course.

UGIRA published the first large multicenter study on the worldwide techniques and outcomes in 856 RAMIE cases in the Annals of Surgery. The results indicate high quality of the procedure, providing directions to optimize the surgical approach. Click here to download the full article and here to see a video presentation on this study.


After a thorough application procedure and oral interviews with 12 outstanding candidates from countries all over the world, we are proud to announce the next UGIRA Fellow Evangelos Tagkalos who will go to the  Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to be hosted by professor Yin Kai Chao. 

The Diseases of the Esophagus released a special issue on key elements and current developments in robotic esophagectomy for esophageal cancer, entitled Robot Assisted Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy: A New Standard of Cure? with technical tips and tricks, insights from an expert bedside assistant, and an overview of the cervical approach.  Click here to access the articles in Diseases of the Esophagus.

The ESSO endorsed annual Utrecht course on (robot-assisted) minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) and gastrectomy (MIG) again hosted surgeons from all over the world on 5-6 March 2020. Two robotic systems (Intuitive Da Vinci Xi) were provided in addition to five conventional minimally invasive stations (Olympus video towers and Medtronic instruments) to allow practice of these procedures on human cadavers. 

The first 1-year UGIRA Fellowship was completed by Pieter van der Sluis under supervision of Peter Grimminger in the University Medical Center Mainz (Germany). In 2019, he was fully involved in all robotic esophagogastric resections (43 esophageal and 4 gastric) and published 8 scientific articles. UGIRA strives to offer the Fellowship to more promising young surgeons. Click here for more information.


In line with previous efforts to gain insight in the wordlwide techniques and outcomes in RAMIE by means of an international Registry (which now holds over 800 cases), UGIRA received a $60.000 Intuitive Clinical Research Grant to establish an international Registry for Robot-Assisted Minimally Invasive Gastrectomy (RAMIG) in 2020. 

The REVATE trial protocol was published by Yin Kai Chao et al. in Trials. This multicenter RCT aims to compare Robotic-assisted Esophagectomy versus Video-assisted Thoracoscopic Esophagectomy. Primary endpoint: rate of unsuccessful lymph node dissection along the left RLN. Read the abstract on our new Clinical Trials page or click here to access the full study protocol in Trials.


On 21 May 2019, the Upper GI International Robotic Association (UGIRA) was legally established. This is an important milestone in the pursuit of UGIRA’s key aims, which are to form effective training programs that involve proctoring, to initiate international studies through web-based registries, and to establish standardized guidelines for robotic esophageal and gastric surgical procedures.

A prospective trial comparing robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE) versus open esophagectomy was carried out in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA). Sarkaria et al. concluded that RAMIE is associated with less postoperative pain and fewer pulmonary and infectious complications. Click here to read the article in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery

“…The facilitation and promotion of structured training pathways is one of the key aims of the ‘Upper GI International Robotic Association (UGIRA)’, which was established in 2017 and serves as an important platform to connect surgeons who are willing to implement RAMIE (and other robot-assisted esophagogastric techniques) to proctors worldwide.”
Click here to read the article in the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

A chapter on Robot-Assisted Thoracolaparoscopic Esophagectomy was recently published in the Atlas of Robotic Thoracic Surgery (authors: Roy Verhage, Christiaan Kroese, Richard van Hillegersberg). The Atlas also includes chapters on other robotic thoracic surgical procedures, such as fundoplication, Heller myotomy, and lobectomy. The chapter on esophagectomy can be reviewed by clicking here.

On the 31st of January 2019, Richard van Hillegersberg and Feike Kingma presented the status of the UGIRA Registry at the Intuitive Clinical Research Grant Symposium, as Intuitive Surgical Inc. has supported this initiative. From the years 2016-2018, a total of 408 robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE) cases have been registered by 9 centers located in Europe, Asia and South-America.  

On March 7-8, 2019, the annual ESSO course on Minimally Invasive Gastrectomy and Esophagectomy will be once again organized in Utrecht. The program consists of scientific lectures in the morning, followed by hands-on sessions in the afternoon. Robotic elements will be extensively addressed during the program of this course. Unfortunately the registration for this course has closed. For more information, click here.

On 28-30 November 2018, a course on Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy will be organized by the departmentof Cardiothoracic Surgery of the University of Pittsburgh (chairman: James Luketich). Richard van Hillegersberg, Peter Grimminger, Edward Cheong, and Blair Marshall will be part of the invited faculty.  Click here to visit the website.

The ROBOT-trial, which compared robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE) versus open esophagectomy, has been published in the Annals of Surgery. RAMIE is superior to open esophagectomy regarding postoperative complications, pain, length of hospital stay, and quality of life. Lymph node yield and radicality rate are comparable.

The second UGIRA meeting was organized in Vienna during the congres of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus (ISDE) on September 17th, 2018. During this, meeting, the first results from the UGIRA Registry were presented and the future directions of the society were discussed.  Click here for the minutes.

On May 31st 2018, the first UGIRA meeting was organized in London during the congress of the European Society for Endoscopic Surgery (EAES). It was a great success thanks to all the inspiring presentations and discussions. The next meeting will be organized during the congres of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus (ISDE). Click here for the minutes of the meeting.

Together with a patient, Peter Grimmminger elaborated on esophageal cancer and the principles of robotic surgery during the television show ‘Volle Kanne’. The show was broadcasted by ZDF network, which is a German national tv station.  Click here to see the video (in German).

In January 2018, Asif Chaudry had the honour of welcoming Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, to The Royal Marsden in London. Prince William has been the President of The Royal Marsden since 2007 and visits the hospital regularly. This time he observed a robot-assisted esophagectomy that was performed for esophageal cancer.  More information can be found here.