Hamdy Elsayed-Awad specialises in anaesthesia at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
JAP: As a specialist in anaesthesia, could you tell us more about your experience and training background in this field?
H E-A: I did a year of anaesthesia research at UCSD. I did my residency at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. I did my cardiac anaesthesia fellowship at Cleveland Clinic. I have been on The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center staff since the fellowship.
JAP: What drove you to choose anaesthesia as a career?
H E-A: I want to help patients at very vulnerable times in their lives.
JAP: This year, it is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, what has been the greatest impact within the anaesthesia industry?
H E-A: The pandemic has shaken the field of anaesthesia. Managing the airway in highly infectious patients was very stressful. Watching patients in the intensive care unit die slowly from respiratory failure and multi-organ failure was very stressful.
JAP: What’s the best part of your job?
H E-A: Relieving pain and suffering through surgery.
JAP: … and the worst?
H E-A: Watching patients suffer and die.
JAP: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
H E-A: Discovering that ischemic spinal cord injury after open and endovascular repair are two separate diseases with two separate mechanisms. If we understand the pathophysiology of both, we will have different treatments in the future. The highlight of my clinical career was providing anaesthesia for the first robotic surgery case in the United States and providing anaesthesia for the first double lung transplant at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
JAP: Tell us more about your recent research looking at ischemic spinal cord injury after aortic aneurysm surgery (open and endovascular)?
H E-A: We developed and published small animal and large animal models to understand the pathophysiology of spinal cord injury after aortic aneurysm surgical repair. We showed that the open repair (OR) results in mainly grey matter damage to the spinal cord while thoracoabdominal endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) results in mainly white matter damage.
JAP: What discoveries have you made about the prevention strategies and therapeutics to create a better clinical outcome?
H E-A: Discovering that there are two different diseases shows that we will need two different treatments for the two repairs. This will allow us to develop better preventative measures against the devastation of paralysis in the future.
JAP: What is next in your research plans?
H E-A: Working on small and large animal models and creating a global biobank with biological fluid from patients with and without paralysis after aortic aneurysm surgery to guide the preclinical work. Discovering therapeutics to prevent and treat paralysis after aortic surgery is our main goal.
JAP: If you weren’t an anaesthetist what would you be?
H E-A: I would love to be a cardiologist or a gastroenterologist if I was not an anaesthetist. I like the manual dexterity.
JAP: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
H E-A: I am extremely lucky and I wish I would have worked harder when I was 21.
JAP: If you were Health Minister for the day what changes would you implement?
H E-A: Preventative medicine is the key for healthy prolonged life. Funding basic and clinical research to eliminate diseases around the globe should be the number one priority.
JAP: Away from the clinic and operating theatre – what do you do to relax?
H E-A: Reading about history. I always enjoy reading about the history of humanity and the lessons we can learn from the past.
JAP: How do you think the future looks in the field of anaesthetics and patient experience and what are your predictions for the decade ahead?
H E-A: The future is very bright. Machine learning and artificial intelligence is coming. As an anaesthetist who provided anaesthesia for the first da Vinci case in the United States, technology is here to stay and is helping us to provide better clinical care to our patients.