By Claudie Benjamin, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Warren Katz, an Army Veteran and actor, recently came in feeling well and fit for a 10 day post-op appointment with Dr. Babak Givi. He had been treated by the surgical team for a cancerous base of tongue tumor. Dr. Givi says the treatment involved transoral laser micro surgery and a neck dissection. Katz spent only three days in the hospital.
A few years ago, the treatment likely would have been surgery involving cutting open the jaw and splitting the mandible to go to the base of the tongue. Katz is already back to full activity, auditioning for new parts in upcoming projects.
“I hope our new techniques make a positive difference for our heroes.”
Dr. Babak Givi has headed the Head and Neck Clinic at VA’s Manhattan Campus for three years and in that time has made a big difference in how complex problems can be solved with minimally invasive procedures.
His expertise in the newer less invasive techniques is having a direct, positive affect on patient outcomes, both by reducing the probability of complications and making recovery quicker.
Among the new diagnostic and surgical approaches Dr. Givi has introduced are ultrasound guided biopsies where targeted tissue samples are removed for analysis in clinic during the patient visit.
Dr. Rosemary Wieczurek in Pathology will then analyze the sample the next day and determine the diagnosis. This method saves the patient at least two visits and provides an answer in an expeditious manner, reducing the anxiety of not knowing if they have cancer or not. Before this new routine, it required at least two or three visits and two to three weeks to make a diagnosis.
Dr. Givi has also integrated the speech and language pathology therapy in the clinic. Latimer Kells, a dedicated speech therapist with a vast amount of expertise in treating head and neck cancer patients, evaluates patients before procedures to ensure that there is a clear concept in place about how surgery intersects with post-operative care. She then follows patients after treatment to provide valuable care in improving their speech and swallowing function.
As a surgeon, Dr. Givi introduced minimally invasive approaches to the removal of malignant tumors. This surgical procedure has now replaced the traditional more invasive and disfiguring facial incisions. Dr. Givi says, for example, “One of my patients was recently told by Memorial Sloan Kettering physicians that he needed a craniotomy for his skull base tumor. But, understandably the patient was very happy that with the help of Dr. Seth Lieberman, our rhinologist, and Dr. Dimitris Placantonakis, our neurosurgeon, we were able to successfully remove the tumor through the nose endoscopically. This meant a significant reduction in the chance of complications and the patient has recovered very well. .The patient was discharged from the hospital in three days with no tumor and no incision.”
Dr. Givi is also expert in sialoendoscopy, a minimally invasive way of treating salivary gland problems. Guided by a scope measuring only 1.7 millimeters, Dr. Givi removes stones and opens narrowed passages, using the natural openings of the salivary glands. With this procedure, many salivary glands that used to be removed by surgery can be saved.
The Head and Neck Surgery Clinic treats all diseases of the skin, mouth, larynx, oropharynx, salivary, thyroid and parathyroid glands. Some are benign like vocal cord polyps, and thyroid goiters and others are cancerous, often related to smoking.
Dr. Givi: “I am very proud of the service we provide to our Veterans. They put their lives on the line for our country. The least we can do is to help them the best we can. I hope our new techniques and our attitudes make a positive difference for our heroes.”