Dr. Elliott is a thoracic surgeon and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. She provides the complete spectrum of surgical care for lung cancer, esophageal cancer, mediastinal tumors, and more through the Stanford Health Care Thoracic Cancer Program. She specializes in minimally invasive, including robotic, approaches to thoracic surgery.

Dr. Elliott received fellowship training from Stanford University. She completed her residency at UCLA Medical Center.

Her research has received support from the National Institutes of Health. She has investigated cancer cell response to replication stress, outcomes in patients undergoing hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) for mesothelioma, complications after esophageal surgery, lymph node involvement in patients with carcinoid tumors of the lung, advanced techniques in robotic surgery, and other topics.

She has authored articles that have appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Annals of Thoracic Surgery, JAMA Surgery, and other peer-reviewed publications. She also has contributed to textbooks including the content on social disparities in lung cancer for the book Social Disparities in Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Elliott has made presentations to her peers at meetings of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Society of Surgical Oncology, Western Thoracic Surgical Association, and other organizations. Presentations focused on surgical treatment of patients with carcinoid tumor of the lung, improvement of mesothelioma patient survival, complications of esophageal surgery, novel targets for cancer treatment, and more.

Clinical Focus

  • Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery

Academic Appointments

Professional Education

  • Board Certification: American Board of Thoracic Surgery, Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery (2023)
  • Fellowship: Stanford University Thoracic Surgery Fellowship (2022) CA
  • Board Certification: American Board of Surgery, General Surgery (2021)
  • Residency: UCLA General Surgery Residency (2020) CA
  • MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (2013)

All Publications

  • Randomized controlled trials in lung cancer surgery: How are we doing? JTCVS open Wong, L. Y., Li, Y., Elliott, I. A., Backhus, L. M., Berry, M. F., Shrager, J. B., Oh, D. S. 2024; 18: 234-252


    Randomized control trials are considered the highest level of evidence, yet the scalability and practicality of implementing randomized control trials in the thoracic surgical oncology space are not well described. The aim of this study is to understand what types of randomized control trials have been conducted in thoracic surgical oncology and ascertain their success rate in completing them as originally planned.The database was queried in April 2023 to identify registered randomized control trials performed in patients with lung cancer who underwent surgery (by any technique) as part of their treatment.There were 68 eligible randomized control trials; 33 (48.5%) were intended to examine different perioperative patient management strategies (eg, analgesia, ventilation, drainage) or to examine different intraoperative technical aspects (eg, stapling, number of ports, port placement, ligation). The number of randomized control trials was relatively stable over time until a large increase in randomized control trials starting in 2016. Forty-four of the randomized control trials (64.7%) were open-label studies, 43 (63.2%) were conducted in a single facility, 66 (97.1%) had 2 arms, and the mean number of patients enrolled per randomized control trial was 236 (SD, 187). Of 21 completed randomized control trials (31%), the average time to complete accrual was 1605 days (4.4 years) and average time to complete primary/secondary outcomes and adverse events collection was 2125 days (5.82 years).Given the immense investment of resources that randomized control trials require, these findings suggest the need to scrutinize future randomized control trial proposals to assess the likelihood of successful completion. Future study is needed to understand the various contributing factors to randomized control trial success or failure.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xjon.2024.01.008

    View details for PubMedID 38690441

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC11056451

  • Lepidic-Type Lung Adenocarcinomas: Is It Safe to Observe for Growth Prior to Treating? The Annals of thoracic surgery Wong, L. Y., Elliott, I. A., Liou, D. Z., Backhus, L. M., Lui, N. S., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F. 2024


    Lepidic-type adenocarcinomas (LPA) can be multi-focal, and treatment is often deferred until there is observed growth. This study investigated the potential downside of that strategy by evaluating the relationship of nodal involvement with tumor size and survival.The impact of tumor size on lymph node involvement and survival was evaluated for National Cancer Database patients who received surgery without induction therapy as primary treatment for cT1-3N0M0 histologically confirmed LPA from 2006-2019 using logistic regression, Kaplan-Meier, and Cox analyses.Positive nodes occurred in 442 (5.3%) of 8,286 patients. The incidence of having positive nodes approximately doubled with each 1cm increment increase in size. Patients with positive nodes were more likely to have larger tumors (27mm vs 20mm,p<0.001) and clinical T2+ disease (40.7% vs 26.8%,p<0.001) compared to node-negative patients, but tumor size was the only significant independent predictor of having positive nodal disease in logistic regression analysis; this association grew stronger with each incremental centimeter increase in size. Patients with positive nodes were more likely to undergo adjuvant radiation (23.5% vs 1.1%,p<0.001) and chemotherapy (72.9% vs 7.9%,p<0.001), and expectedly had worse survival compared to the node negative group in univariate (5-year overall survival 50.9% vs 81.1%,p<0.001) and multivariable (Hazard ratio 2.56 [95% CI 2.14-3.05],p<0.001) analyses.Nodal involvement is relatively uncommon in early-stage LPAs but steadily increases with tumor size and is associated with dramatically worse survival. This data can be used to inform treatment decisions when evaluating LPA patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2024.03.003

    View details for PubMedID 38490310

  • Outcomes of surgery for catastrophic hiatal hernia presentations. Journal of gastrointestinal surgery : official journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract Wong, L., Leipzig, M., Elliott, I. A., Liou, D. Z., Backhus, L. M., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F. 2024; 28 (3): 285-286

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gassur.2023.12.024

    View details for PubMedID 38445922

  • The Impact of Immunotherapy Use in Stage IIIA (T1-2N2) NSCLC: A Nationwide Analysis. JTO clinical and research reports Wong, L. Y., Liou, D. Z., Roy, M., Elliott, I. A., Backhus, L. M., Lui, N. S., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F. 2024; 5 (3): 100654


    Multiple clinical trials have revealed the benefit of immunotherapy (IO) for NSCLC, including unresectable stage III disease. Our aim was to investigate the impact of IO use on treatment and outcomes of potentially resectable stage IIIA NSCLC in a broader nationwide patient cohort.We queried the National Cancer Database (2004-2019) for patients with stage IIIA (T1-2N2) NSCLC. Treatment and survival were evaluated with descriptive statistics, logistic regression, Kaplan-Meier analysis, and Cox proportional hazards modeling.Overall, 5.5% (3777 of 68,335) of patients received IO. IO use was uncommon until 2017, but by 2019, it was given to 40.1% (1544 of 2308) of stage IIIA patients. The increased use of IO after 2017 was associated with increased definitive chemoradiation treatment (54.2% [6800 of 12,535] from years 2017 to 2019 versus 46.9% [26,251 of 55,914] from 2004 to 2016, p < 0.001) and less use of surgery (18.1% [2266 of 12,535] from years 2017 to 2019 versus 22.0% [12,300 of 55,914] from 2004 to 2016, p < 0.001). IO treatment was associated with significantly better 5-year survival in the entire cohort (36.9% versus 23.4%, p < 0.001) and the subsets of patients treated with chemoradiation (37.2% versus 22.7%, p < 0.001) and surgery (48.6% versus 44.3%, p < 0.001). Pneumonectomy use decreased with increased IO treatment (5.1% of surgical patients [116 of 2266] from years 2017 to 2019 versus 9.2% [1127 of 12,300] from 2004 to 2016, p < 0.001).Increased use of IO was associated with a change in treatment patterns and improved survival for patients with stage IIIA(N2) NSCLC.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jtocrr.2024.100654

    View details for PubMedID 38496376

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10941003

  • Risk of developing subsequent primary lung cancer after receiving radiation for breast cancer. JTCVS open Wong, L., Kapula, N., He, H., Guenthart, B. A., Vitzthum, L. K., Horst, K., Liou, D. Z., Backhus, L. M., Lui, N. S., Berry, M. F., Shrager, J. B., Elliott, I. A. 2023; 16: 919-928


    Background: Radiotherapy (RT) is integral to breast cancer treatment, especially in the current era that emphasizes breast conservation. The aim of our study was to determine the incidence of subsequent primary lung cancer after RT exposure for breast cancer over a time span of 3decades to quantify this risk over time as modern oncologic treatment continues to evolve.Methods: The SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database was queried from 1988 to 2014 for patients diagnosed with nonmetastatic breast cancer. Patients who subsequently developed primary lung cancer were identified. Multivariable regression modeling was performed to identify independent factors associated with the development of lung cancer stratified by follow up intervals of 5 to 9years, 10 to 15years, and >15years after breast cancer diagnosis.Results: Of the 612,746 patients who met our inclusion criteria, 319,014 (52%) were irradiated. primary lung cancer developed in 5556 patients (1.74%) in the RT group versus 4935 patients (1.68%) in the non-RT group. In a multivariable model stratified by follow-up duration, the overall HR of developing subsequent ipsilateral lung cancer in the RT group was 1.14 (P=.036) after 5 to 9years of follow-up, 1.28 (P=.002) after 10 to 15years of follow-up, and 1.30 (P=.014) after >15years of follow-up. The HR of contralateral lung cancer was not increased at any time interval.Conclusions: The increased risk of developing a primary lung cancer secondary to RT exposure for breast cancer is much lower than previously published. Modern RT techniques may have contributed to the improved risk profile, and this updated study is important for counseling and surveillance of breast cancer patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xjon.2023.10.031

    View details for PubMedID 38204675

  • Comparison of failure to rescue in younger versus elderly patients following lung cancer resection. JTCVS open Wang, Y., Kapula, N., Yang, C. J., Manapat, P., Elliott, I. A., Guenthart, B. A., Lui, N. S., Backhus, L. M., Berry, M. F., Shrager, J. B., Liou, D. Z. 2023; 16: 855-872


    Objective: Failure to rescue (FTR), defined as in-hospital death following a major complication, has been increasingly studied in patients who undergo cardiothoracic surgery. This study tested the hypothesis that elderly patients undergoing lung cancer resection have greater rates of FTR compared with younger patients.Methods: Patients who underwent surgery for primary lung cancer between 2011 and 2020 and had at least 1 major postoperative complication were identified using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. Patients who died following complications (FTR) were compared with those who survived in an elderly (80+ years) and younger (<80years) cohort.Results: Of the 2823 study patients, the younger cohort comprised 2497 patients (FTR: n=139 [5.6%]), whereas the elderly cohort comprised 326 patients (FTR: n=39 [12.0%]). Pneumonia was the most common complication in younger (877/2497, 35.1%) and elderly patients (118/326, 36.2%) but was not associated with FTR on adjusted analysis. Increasing age was associated with FTR (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.55 per decade, P<.001), whereas unplanned reoperation was associated with reduced risk (AOR, 0.55, P=.01). Within the elderly cohort, surgery conducted by a thoracic surgeon was associated with lower FTR risk (AOR, 0.29, P=.028).Conclusions: FTR following lung cancer resection was more frequent with increasing age. Pneumonia was the most common complication but not a predictor of FTR. Unplanned reoperation was associated with reduced FTR, as was treatment by a thoracic surgeon for elderly patients. Surgical therapy for complications after lung cancer resection and elderly patients managed by a thoracic specialist may mitigate the risk of death following an adverse postoperative event.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xjon.2023.08.002

    View details for PubMedID 38204720

  • The impact of refusing esophagectomy for treatment of locally advanced esophageal adenocarcinoma. JTCVS open Wong, L., Elliott, I. A., Liou, D. Z., Backhus, L. M., Lui, N. S., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F. 2023; 16: 987-995


    Objective: Patients with esophageal cancer may be reluctant to proceed with surgery due to high complication rates. This study aims to compare outcomes between eligible surgical candidates who proceeded with surgery versus those who refused surgery.Methods: Characteristics and survival of patients with locally advanced (cT3N0M0, cT1-3N+M0) mid-/distal esophageal adenocarcinoma in the National Cancer Database (2006-2019) who either proceeded with or refused surgery after chemoradiotherapy were evaluated with logistic regression, Kaplan-Meier curves, and Cox proportional hazards methods.Results: Of the 13,594 patients included in the analysis, 595 (4.4%) patients refused esophagectomy. Patients who refused surgery were older, had less distance to travel to their treatment facility, were more likely to have cN0 disease, and were more likely to be treated at a community rather than academic or integrated network program, but did not have significantly different comorbid disease distributions. On multivariable analysis, refusing surgery was independently associated with older age, uninsured, lower income, less distance to a hospital, and treatment in a community program versus an academic/research or integrated network program. Esophagectomy was associated with better survival (5-year survival 40.1% [39.2-41] vs 23.6% [19.9-27.9], P<.001) and was also independently associated with better survival in the Cox model (hazard rate, 0.78 [95% confidence interval, 0.7-0.87], P<.001).Conclusions: The results of this study can inform selected patients with resectable esophageal adenocarcinoma that their survival will be significantly diminished if surgery is not pursued. Many factors associated with refusing surgery are non-clinical and suggest that access to or support for care could influence patient decisions.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xjon.2023.09.006

    View details for PubMedID 38204633

  • Impact of hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) during resection of pleural mesothelioma on patient survival. Journal of thoracic disease Elliott, I. A., He, H., Lui, N. S., Liou, D. Z., Guenthart, B. A., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F., Backhus, L. M. 2023; 15 (11): 6140-6150


    Pleural mesothelioma (PM) is rare but portends a poor prognosis. Multimodal treatment, including aggressive surgical resection, may offer the best chance of treatment response and improved survival. Single-center studies suggest that hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) during surgical resection improves outcomes, but the impact of HITHOC on postoperative morbidity and survival has not been examined on a larger scale.The National Cancer Database was queried for patients undergoing resection for PM from 2006-2017. Patients were excluded if staging or survival data was incomplete. After propensity-score matching, patients who underwent HITHOC were compared to patients who did not (case-control study). Perioperative outcomes and survival were analyzed.The final cohort consisted of 3,232 patients; of these, 365 patients underwent HITHOC. After propensity-score matching, receipt of HITHOC was associated with increased length of stay (12 vs. 7 days, P<0.001) and increased 30-day readmissions (9.9% vs. 4.9%, P=0.007), but decreased 30-day mortality (3.2% vs. 6.0%, P=0.017) and 90-day mortality (7.5% vs. 10.9%). Kaplan-Meier modeling demonstrated that HITHOC was associated with improved survival in the overall cohort (median 20.5 vs. 16.8 months, P=0.001). In multivariable analysis, HITHOC remained associated with improved overall survival [hazard ratio (HR) =0.80; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.69-0.92; P=0.002], and this persisted in the propensity-matched analysis (HR =0.73; 95% CI: 0.61-0.88; P=0.001).Using a large national database, we describe the impact of HITHOC on survival in patients with PM. Despite observed increased short-term morbidity, in multivariable analysis HITHOC was associated with an overall survival advantage for patients undergoing surgical resection of PM.

    View details for DOI 10.21037/jtd-23-466

    View details for PubMedID 38090290

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10713319

  • Impact of hyperthermic intrathoracic chemotherapy (HITHOC) during resection of pleural mesothelioma on patient survival JOURNAL OF THORACIC DISEASE Elliott, I. A., He, H., Lui, N. S., Liou, D. Z., Guenthart, B. A., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. F., Backhus, L. M. 2023
  • Outcomes of a Failed Observation Approach for Paraesophageal Hernia Wong, L., Leipzig, M., Elliott, I. A., Lui, N., Liou, D., Backhus, L. M., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS. 2023: S483
  • Outcomes of a Failed Observation Approach for Paraesophageal Hernia Wong, L., Leipzig, M., Elliott, I. A., Lui, N., Liou, D., Backhus, L. M., Shrager, J. B., Berry, M. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS. 2023: S483
  • Half of Anastomotic Leaks after Esophagectomy are Undetected on Initial Postoperative Esophagram. The Annals of thoracic surgery Elliott, I. A., Berry, M. F., Trope, W., Lui, N. S., Guenthart, B. A., Liou, D. Z., Whyte, R. I., Backhus, L. M., Shrager, J. B. 2022


    The sensitivity of fluoroscopic esophagrams with oral contrast to exclude anastomotic leak after esophagectomy is not well-documented, and the consequences of missing a leak in this setting have not been previously described.We performed a retrospective cohort study of a prospectively maintained institutional database of patients undergoing esophagectomy with esophagogastric anastomosis 2008-2020. Relevant details regarding leaks, management, and outcomes were obtained from the database and formal chart review. Statistical analysis was performed to compare patients with and without leaks, and those with false negative versus positive esophagrams.There were 384 patients who underwent esophagectomy with gastric reconstruction: the majority were Ivor-Lewis (82%), and 51% were wholly or partially minimally-invasive. Using a broad definition of leak, 55 patients (16.7%) developed an anastomotic leak. Twenty-seven of the 55 patients (49%) who ultimately were found to have a leak initially had a negative esophagram (performed on average on postoperative day 6). Those with a negative initial esophagram were more likely to have an uncontained leak (81% vs. 29%, p<0.01), require unplanned readmission (70% vs. 39%, p=0.02), and undergo reoperation (44% vs. 11%, p<0.01).Early postoperative esophagrams intended to evaluate anastomotic integrity have a low sensitivity of 51%, and leaks missed on initial esophagram have greater clinical consequences than those identified on initial esophagram. These findings suggest a high index of suspicion must be maintained even after a normal esophagram and calls into question the common practice of using this test to triage patients for diet advancement.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2022.04.053

    View details for PubMedID 35618049

  • Social Disparities in Lung Cancer. Thoracic surgery clinics Elliott, I., Gonzalez, C., Backhus, L., Lui, N. 2022; 32 (1): 33-42


    Social disparities in lung cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival have been studied using national databases, statewide registries, and institution-level data. Some disparities emerge consistently, such as lower adherence to treatment guidelines and worse survival by race and socioeconomic status, whereas other disparities are less well studied. A critical appraisal of current data is essential to increasing equity in lung cancer care.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.thorsurg.2021.09.009

    View details for PubMedID 34801193

  • Resection of a Giant Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma Arising from the Superior Vena Cava. The Annals of thoracic surgery Elliott, I. A., Kasinpila, P., Guenthart, B. A., MacArthur, J. W., Berry, M. F. 2021


    Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma is a rare malignant vascular sarcoma. Here we present a patient with a very large tumor arising from the superior vena cava (SVC), in whom a resection with negative margins was accomplished using veno-venous bypass and bovine pericardial patch reconstruction of the SVC.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2021.01.034

    View details for PubMedID 33529605

  • Smooth Muscle Operator: Robotic-Assisted Enucleation of an Esophageal Leiomyoma. Digestive diseases and sciences Elliott, I. A., Forgó, E. n., Lui, N. S. 2021

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10620-020-06703-7

    View details for PubMedID 33479860

  • First lung and kidney multi-organ transplant following COVID-19 Infection. The Journal of heart and lung transplantation : the official publication of the International Society for Heart Transplantation Guenthart, B. A., Krishnan, A., Alassar, A., Madhok, J., Kakol, M., Miller, S., Cole, S. P., Rao, V. K., Acero, N. M., Hill, C. C., Cheung, C., Jackson, E. C., Feinstein, I., Tsai, A. H., Mooney, J. J., Pham, T., Elliott, I. A., Liou, D. Z., La Francesca, S., Shudo, Y., Hiesinger, W., MacArthur, J. W., Brar, N., Berry, G. J., McCarra, M. B., Desai, T. J., Dhillon, G. S., Woo, Y. J. 2021


    As the world responds to the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic an increasing number of patients are experiencing increased morbidity as a result of multi-organ involvement. Of these, a small proportion will progress to end-stage lung disease, become dialysis dependent, or both. Herein, we describe the first reported case of a successful combined lung and kidney transplantation in a patient with COVID-19. Lung transplantation, isolated or combined with other organs, is feasible and should be considered for select patients impacted by this deadly disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.healun.2021.02.015

    View details for PubMedID 34059432

  • Commentary: An innovative, minimally-invasive approach to post-pneumonectomy bronchopleural fistula. JTCVS techniques Elliott, I. A., Bedi, H. S., Lui, N. S. 2020; 4: 351-352

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xjtc.2020.08.032

    View details for PubMedID 34318072

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8304844

  • Commentary: An innovative, minimally-invasive approach to post-pneumonectomy bronchopleural fistula Comment JTCVS TECHNIQUES Elliott, I. A., Bedi, H. S., Lui, N. S. 2020; 4: 351-352