Suresh Vedantham MD is a professor in the department of radiology. He specializes in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.
Dr Vedantham sees patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine.
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What happened in the course of schooling to make you choose your specialty?
When I was in medical school, I was attracted to the use of surgical and semi-surgical procedures to treat disease, and during my fourth year I was first exposed to interventional radiology. At that time, we studied an innovative radiologic stent procedure used in liver surgery called TIPS (Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt), which has since evolved into standard practice. This procedure piqued my interest and made me explore that particular area of work. As a result, I decided to go into interventional radiology even before starting my radiology residency program.
What brought you to Washington University?
When I was looking for academic faculty positions in interventional radiology, I interviewed at several places and it was very clear that Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University offered so much more than other institutions in terms of resources, and the potential to grow professionally.
What aspect of your practice is most interesting?
Right now, I am focused on reducing the long-term disability faced by patients with blood clots of the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis or DVT). First, I continue to perform innovative, imaging-guided clot removal procedures on patients with DVT. The goal is preventing a complication called “post-thrombotic syndrome” (PTS) that causes chronic leg pain, swelling, difficulty walking and working, skin changes, and leg ulcers. I am the national principal investigator of the ATTRACT Study, a landmark study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and ongoing in 50 hospitals nationwide, that will determine if doctors should routinely use clot removal procedures to prevent PTS in patients with DVT.
Second, for DVT patients who already suffer from PTS, I am using a treatment strategy involving stents and lasers to re-open blocked veins, eliminate backwards blood flow, and thereby reduce symptoms and disability. Third, I have been actively engaged in efforts to increase public awareness about venous disease, and currently serve as vice-chair of the Venous Disease Coalition. This public-private coalition, which was organized by the Vascular Disease Foundation, includes 35 major health professional organizations that have joined together to increase public awareness about venous disease. It is my strong hope that these research and leadership activities will establish the best ways to reduce disability from venous diseases and ensure that patients and providers know when to use them.
|Dr. Vedantham and his family
You do laser ablation for varicose veins. Is that still as prominent in your practice?
Yes, and there are several other outstanding physicians in my section who now also perform laser ablation. These days, most of my laser ablation procedures are performed to reduce disability in patients with prior DVT and PTS.
How many procedures do you perform with leg veins?
We probably do five procedures per week, but this is really the tip of the iceberg when you consider the number of people out there with venous disease.
There appears to be many approaches to treating varicose and other vein problems. Are you concerned about competition?
I think that venous reflux disease and varicose veins are so common in the general population that we are not really bothered by competition. That said, I think we should compete well – I have vast experience in treating venous disease using image-guided procedures, so my skill set is ideally suited to providing care for these patients.
Where are you from originally?
I am from the western suburbs of Chicago.
Which particular award or achievement is most gratifying to you?
That is a difficult question. From a professional standpoint, I just find it very gratifying that my intellectual contributions and leadership in the field of venous disease appear to be valued by other leaders in the field. These relationships have given me an amazing platform from which to try to innovate and advance patient care.
What do you do when you are not working?
I hang out with my beautiful wife Tanya and my son Shrey. Spending time with my family is really important to me. I am also an avid Rock N’ Roll fan.
Your favorite group?
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice was to look beyond my own subspecialty and focus on how I can use my abilities to improve patient care in a collaborative fashion. The projects that are most successful in advancing patient care are almost always multidisciplinary in nature.
What lifestyle change could we most benefit?
On a personal level, working less and improving our basic health habits are important. In terms of a societal “lifestyle change”, I think we really need a universal healthcare system because there are ridiculous inequities in patient care. I am amazed that we still tolerate this.
As far as your job, where do you see yourself five years down the road? Ten years down the road?
Five years down the line, I expect the ATTRACT Study to be completed and having a major impact on patient care. I expect my career commitment to venous disease patients to continue undiminished and to create new opportunities for me to collaborate with talented people from academia, industry, and government who are similarly committed to advancing public health in venous disease.
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