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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

You’ve seen the commercials and heard the negative news about surgical mesh – and you’re probably wondering if it’s safe. You’re not alone. Many people who need hernia repair have this concern. Dr. Robert Jean, general surgeon at University Surgical Associates, shares how he talks with patients about this often-misunderstood approach to hernia repair. 

“Due in part to the pervasiveness of TV commercials that have warned of the dangers associated with surgical mesh, nearly every patient I see is hesitant to use this approach,” says Dr. Jean. “But using surgical mesh in hernia repair is the highest standard of care. It’s used as a reinforcement to provide strength to the repair and has been shown to produce better long-term results and decrease the risk of the hernia returning.” 

Understanding the Risks 

There have been a number of law suits about the misuse of surgical mesh and the complications that can occur when it’s used improperly. The major complications include severe pain, serious infections around the mesh, mesh adherence to internal organs (called erosion), and bowel obstruction. But thanks to improved surgical techniques and product design, these risks are steadily decreasing.  

“Any product that’s placed inside the body has associated risks, but the benefits greatly outweigh those risks in most situations. In recent years, surgical mesh manufacturers have taken flawed products off the market and developed different materials or coatings designed to prevent erosion,” explains Dr. Jean. “Surgeons are also implementing different surgical approaches and keeping mesh away from a patient’s intestines and bladder, further reducing the risk of complications.” 

For patients who have a predisposition to infection, there are a few types of mesh that offer a higher degree of infection resistance. Your surgeon should talk with you about whether these products are necessary for your individual medical condition. Although increasingly rare, effectively treating most infections can be as simple as using antibiotics or drains. Only in the most severe cases is corrective surgery required.  

USA General Surgery Staff 

University Surgical Associates provides general surgical care in the Chattanooga region for patients with hernias and breast disease, as well as a wide range of surgical services relating to the abdomen, including surgery of the gallbladder, stomach and colon.   

Coleman Arnold, MD, FACS
Donald Barker, MD, FACS
R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS
W. Todd Cockerham, MD, FACS 
Benjamin Dart IV, MD, FACS
Jacob Dowden, MD, FACS
W. Heath Giles, MD, FACS
John Huggins, MD, FACS
Darren Hunt, MD, FACS
Robert Jean, MD, FACS 
Benjamin Kellogg, MD, FACS
Robert Maxwell, MD, FACS
Vicente Mejia, MD, FACS
S. Michael Roe, MD, FACS
Philip Smith, MD, FACS
Craig Swafford, MD, FACS 

Safe and Effective Treatment 

If you’re living with the discomfort, pain and heaviness in your abdomen that often goes along with a hernia, safe and effective treatment is available.  The board certified and highly trained surgeons at USA use minimally invasive techniques – including robotic surgery – to treat hernias of all sizes. For people with a large hernia, surgical mesh offers the best long-term outcome and the lowest risk of recurrence. Dr. Jean recommends against surgery for patients who are uncomfortable using surgical mesh to repair their hernia because of the substantially lower chance for success without it. 

He also emphasizes that even if you aren’t sure you need surgery to repair a hernia, a consultation with a surgeon can be beneficial. “I don’t want to convince anyone they should have surgery if they don’t want it, but I do want people to know when surgery might be required,” says Dr. Jean. “If you have a severe onset of pain, nausea and vomiting or if the hernia’s size increases quickly, these could be reasons for an emergent hernia repair and you should go to the ER immediately.” 

Learn more about the services available at University Surgical Associates by visiting To schedule an appointment with one of USA’s general surgeons, call (423) 267-0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: General Surgery

Understanding Appendicitis  

September 6th, 2017

Most people never think about their appendix – until it’s causing them severe pain. But what is the appendix and what does it do? Dr. Benjamin Kellogg, board-certified general surgeon with University Surgical Associates, shares the ins and out of your appendix, its function in the body, and when surgery might be necessary.  

What does the appendix do? 

The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch attached to the start of the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Its job is to protect good bacteria in the gut. It’s suggested that the good bacteria housed in the appendix can repopulate the digestive system and help you recover from infections after you experience diarrhea or another illness. Most people only think about their appendix when it becomes inflamed, requiring an emergency procedure to have it removed. 

“This inflammation of the appendix is called appendicitis. It’s a medical emergency that can quickly evolve into a life-threatening situation if not treated right away. Without treatment, an inflamed appendix can rupture and cause a potentially fatal infection,” says Dr. Kellogg.

What are the causes and symptoms of appendicitis? 

Appendicitis is usually caused by a blockage of fecal matter inside the appendix. The lining of the appendix and the intestines work to fight bacterial infections and can swell, leading to the obstruction. It can also be caused by a traumatic abdominal injury, tumors or a foreign body (like something being swallowed or an intrauterine device). 

“Symptoms of appendicitis are wide ranging – what starts with bloating and pain around the belly button routinely moves to the lower right side of the stomach and becomes sharp and continuous,” says Dr. Kellogg. “Your belly will most likely be tender to the touch, and sneezing, coughing, deep breathing or sudden movements can cause the pain to intensify.” 
There are other “classic” symptoms of appendicitis, including: 

·      Nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite 
·      Diarrhea or constipation
·      Fever that begins after the other symptoms
·      Swollen and/or tender abdomen 

Others experience pain with urination, the inability to urinate, or the frequent urge to urinate. This happens when the swollen appendix is close to the bladder and urinary tract. These symptoms are a clear warning that urgent medical attention is necessary. 

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A Safe and Effective Solution 

According to the American Medical Association and the American College of Surgeons, appendectomies are one of the most common surgical procedures performed today. When possible, Dr. Kellogg uses laparoscopic techniques to remove the appendix without an open incision. Laparoscopic technology means the procedure can be performed with three small incisions (1/4” to ½”) while watching the magnified image of the patient’s internal organs on a television monitor. 
Advantages of laparoscopic techniques often include less pain after the procedure, a shorter hospital stay, a quicker return to normal activity (including bowel function) and less scaring. In some cases, laparoscopic appendectomy is more difficult when there’s advanced infection or if the appendix has ruptured. In these cases, a traditional open procedure may be required to remove appendix safely. 


Even though there are risks associated with any surgical procedure, they are much less severe than those that come with untreated appendicitis. The procedure is often done on an emergent basis because it can prevent abscesses and peritonitis (an inflammation of the membrane that lines your inner abdominal wall and covers the organs inside your abdomen) from developing. 

Although appendicitis occurs more often in children and young adults, the risk of rupture is highest in older adults. A person’s lifetime risk of developing the condition is between seven and 14 percent. 

Don’t Tough It Out 

“Appendicitis is serious and can result in death without timely treatment. An inflamed appendix can rupture in two to three days after symptoms begin. Even if your symptoms aren’t typical (i.e. stabbing abdominal pain), you need to act quickly,” says Dr. Kellogg. “Because a ruptured appendix can spill dangerous organism throughout the abdomen, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.” 
Dr. Kellogg has office hours at USA's Dayton office on Monday (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.), Tuesday (1 – 4 p.m.) and Friday (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Dr. Kellogg performs surgery at Rhea County Medical Center, Plaza Surgery Center at Erlanger, Erlanger Medical Mall and at Erlanger Hospital. For more information or scheduling, call (423) 267-0466                                                                        

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: General Surgery