The newest addition to the urology staff at Keck Medicine of USC will fit right in working in a city noted for its celebrities — he’s been doing surgeries on high-profile patients in Latin America for years. One of his final cases before arriving in Los Angeles, in fact, was a successful prostate cancer surgery on the runner-up in Colombia’s most recent presidential elections.
Rene Sotelo, MD, joined the USC staff on Aug. 3 as professor of clinical urology at the USC Institute of Urology, just a few days after performing a robotic prostatectomy in Bogota, Colombia, on Oscar Iván Zuluaga, an economist who was the nominee of the Democratic Center political party in the 2014 presidential election.
At the time, Sotelo’s base of operations was in Caracas, Venezuela, which is his home country, but he had become known throughout Latin America as a leader in the use of robotic surgery to treat urologic cancers and benign conditions. Sotelo has published more than 50 peer reviewed scientific papers and 28 chapters in major urology books.
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So, when Zuluaga received his diagnosis of prostate cancer, the political leader’s advisers sought out the top surgeon in that part of the world, which quickly led them to Sotelo.
“I had been traveling to Colombia and training surgeons in Colombia for many years,” Sotelo noted.
The surgery, which took place in July 2015, was particularly newsworthy in the Spanish-speaking world, and was covered by many news outlets, including an appearance by Sotelo on the Spanish-language edition of CNN.
The surgery’s result? “Now three months later, the cancer is completely extracted and Zuluaga is doing great.,” Sotelo said during an Oct. 13 interview in his new office at USC. “Just three or four weeks afterward, he was already back out doing campaign work