Joseph Renzulli II, MD, FACS has been named the new Chief of Urology at South County Health, and will begin practicing at South County Urology in May 2018. Dr. Renzulli, a graduate of Boston University School of Medicine, completed his urologic surgery residency at Yale New Haven Medical Center and is board-certified by the American Board of Urology. Before joining South County Medical Group, he was part of the medical staff at Brown University and Lifespan for 12 years, and currently holds a position as an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
With years of experience treating urologic disorders and performing urologic surgeries, in particular with the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system, Dr. Renzulli has published over 50 peer-reviewed publications and 70 abstracts. His research is largely focused on prostate cancer and robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy outcomes, two areas that will play a key role in treating patients at South County Health.
What led you to specialize in urology?
I always wanted to be a surgeon. When I was introduced to the complexity of pelvic anatomy in the first year of medical school it was an obvious choice for me. It is the only surgical specialty that deals with both male and female anatomies. The diverse surgical anatomy of the pelvis is extremely challenging which motivated me to pursue a career as a urologic surgeon.
What do you consider to be your areas of surgical expertise?
Urology is a diverse discipline with multiple subspecialties, including urologic oncology, pediatrics, female urology, male infertility, endourology, and benign urology. Although I treat all urologic conditions, I specialize in adult genitourinary oncology. My focus is on minimally invasive robotic and laparoscopic surgery, specifically utilizing the daVinci Robotic-Arm System. The majority of my research, published articles, abstracts, and clinical trials are in prostate cancer, which is the number one malignancy in males and the number two cause of cancer-related deaths in men.
Are urologic disorders typically genetic or brought on by lifestyle?
It certainly depends on the type of disorder or disease, but the number one cause of urothelial cancer is smoking—a staggering 75% of cases are smoking related. Similarly, smoking is a leading cause of kidney cancer. It’s unclear what causes other genitourinary cancers but research is identifying a larger role for genetic/inherited relationships to some prostate and urothelial malignancies.
How have patient outcomes improved from the time you began practicing medicine until now, in particular with daVinci robotic-assisted surgery?
Over the past 15 years the most significant change in urologic surgery has been the continued introduction and adoption of new technologies and minimally invasive surgical techniques. This allows patients to have surgeries through smaller incisions with quicker recovery, less pain, and faster return to their normal activities. Years ago, if a patient was to undergo a prostatectomy, they would typically have a hospital stay of three to four nights. The blood transfusion rate was 20-25%, and there was significant pain post operatively as well as a prolonged recovery. Now, with robotic prostatectomy, the surgeon makes only five or six small laparoscopic incisions. Patients experience less pain which requires less narcotics. Typically, patients go home the next day and return to normal activities within three to four weeks.
South County Health recently invested in the newest, most advanced da Vinci Xi Surgical System. The newly refined technology has broader capabilities than prior generations of the da Vinci System. It can be used across a wide spectrum of minimally invasive surgical procedures and has been optimized for multi-quadrant surgeries. The da Vinci Xi Surgical System has a 3D high definition vision system, specialized instruments, and computer software that allows the surgeon to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity, and control. South County Hospital is the first hospital in Rhode Island to have the latest version of this robot.
What changes and/or improvements in surgical capabilities do you see on the horizon?
Eventually, I think there will be integrated imaging based surgical techniques with robotic surgery. In other words, imaging that can be integrated into surgical robots where CT scans, PET scans or MRIs can be utilized intraoperatively to identify and color code the normal tissue from the cancerous tissue.
Is there anything people can do to help prevent prostate cancer?
Get screened. You need to maintain appropriate screening to identify disease early, which is almost always curable. PSA and digital rectal exam is the standard approach to prostate cancer screening. Most men will begin screening at age 50 and continue through 70-75 years of age. If one has a family history or is of African American decent, screening should begin 10 years earlier, at age 40.
What is your philosophy when caring for your patients?
It’s my goal to always apply the most recent medical evidence and proven innovations to enhance my patients’ outcomes and provide them with the highest level of quality care.
Learn more about Dr. Renzulli and his treatment of prostate conditions with our podcast, South County Health Talks.
For a consultation with Dr. Renzulli, please call 401-788-8780. Dr. Renzulli's office is located in the Medical Office Building, 70 Kenyon Ave, Wakefield, Suite 324.