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Camran Nezhat with photos of patient
babies resulting from treatment.

Q&A with Dr. Camran Nezhat, the father of video endoscopy

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
From the April 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

In his quest to move the surgical field away from open, invasive procedures to closed operations using small incisions, tiny endoscopy cameras and miniature surgical tools, Dr. Camran Nezhat has endured near persecution.

As a young Iranian medical student (and now an American citizen), he recalls that physicians opposed to the paradigm shift from the way surgery had always been done – big, open incisions that were hard on patients – even reported him to the Justice and Immigration departments and the IRS. But, he persisted, and along with his two brothers who are also U.S. gynecological surgeons, Dr. Nezhat has taught the art and science of endoscopic surgery to thousands of surgeons worldwide

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In addition to caring for his patients, he also collaborates with some of the leading medical technology companies to help develop improved video endoscopic and robotic surgery techniques. HealthCare Business News recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Nezhat about his work.

HCB News: How did you first become passionate about laparoscopy and minimally invasive surgery?

Dr. Camran Nezhat: It started at an early age. As a high school student, my parents sent me to shadow a surgeon. There, I witnessed a cystoscopy. The surgeon struggled to show me a stone within the patient’s bladder. He hunched over the patient’s body peering through the shaky scope, taking four attempts before I was finally able to see the stone in the bladder. I asked him why doesn’t he put a camera on the scope and watch it on the monitor? He laughed and said, “son, are you becoming an inventor?”

I later became familiar with endoscopy when I started medical school, where my professors demonstrated the same endoscopic technique that I had witnessed years prior. It was during my residency that one of my brothers required minor surgery on his knee, through a large incision, that I realized medicine was desperately in need of a change. I carried this passion and motivation with me into my training, where I was able to transform my vision into a reality.

HCB News: Can you give us a little history on your role in the development of minimally invasive and robotic surgery?

CN: All throughout my training, I empathized with countless patients suffering from the postoperative pain and complications associated with laparotomies. In comparing recovery time and pain between laparotomy and diagnostic laparoscopy, I asked myself, “Why shouldn’t we treat more surgical pathologies laparoscopically?”

I set out to refine laparoscopic procedures in hopes of operative laparoscopy becoming the new surgical norm. Through the ‘80s and ’90s and later, many of my mentors and other physicians were encouraged by my efforts, including Dr. David Stevenson, senior dean at Stanford University, who told me: “You have a story to tell. Don’t stop. Keep going. Your work is helping patients.”
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