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HBDHB interventional radiologist honoured

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Dr Umesh Pandey offers a wry smile when asked what "intervention" means in terms of his specialty, radiology.

It’s a question the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s Chief Interventional Radiologist has heard before.

He is happy to educate about the sub-specialty which was virtually non-existent when 10 years ago, the father of two adult children came to the province with his wife Neelu, a HBDHB laboratory technician.

In the time since he has slowly but surely built a team to deliver interventional radiology services - the provision of minimally invasive procedures with the assistance of imaging guidance, generally under local anaesthesia, and mostly performed as outpatient procedures not requiring an overnight stay.

It’s skilled work which recently saw him honoured at the Asians in the Bay Awards where he was co-winner of The Best Asian Practising Professional- category.

Originally from Nainital, a town situated in the Himalayan hills in the north of India Dr Pandey, who previously worked in Sweden and Saudi Arabia, says appreciation of, and trust in interventional radiology has gradually grown.

"That’s reflected in the fact that we have a constantly increasing number of referrals to us from GPs and Specialists for various procedures.

"We are regularly performing many interventional radiology procedures as an alternative to surgical procedures, with comparable results and benefits over surgery including less trauma to the body, less anaesthesia, less pain, less recovery period and less hospital stay."

As an example of the type of work managed by the service, Dr Pandey cites a 45-year-old woman who was referred with debilitating lower left leg pain. A short walk was all she could manage.

A CT scan revealed that her main artery to the limb was blocked.

"We successfully recreated the artery with a minimally invasive procedure and established good circulation to her left leg. The procedure took two hours and was done under local anaesthesia. She was discharged the same day after four hours of observation.

"The procedure has entirely changed her life. She can walk and run at will now.

"Procedures like this have brought efficiency and cut the cost of treatment without jeopardising the treatment outcome."

Reflecting on his recent honour Dr Pandey says interventional radiology requires a team effort.

"There are other radiologists who help in the work according to their expertise.

"There are six nurses who assist in management of patients and their follow up. They are also trained to work as first assistant in various interventional procedures.

"Image guidance is provided by three Medical Radiation Technolgists (MRTs) especially trained in the field of interventional procedures."

Dr Pandey says he was fortunate to have a couple of nurses with training and experience in the specialty when he started in Hawke’s Bay.

"We joined hands and recruited and trained more nurses who were keen to learn.

"The nurse role is crucial as it includes management of conscious sedation and post procedural care.

"One of our nursing team has qualified as a Nurse Practitioner within a radiology and vascular specialty - a first in Australasia."

In his acceptance speech at the Asians in the Bay Awards, Dr Pandey said: "I dedicate this award to all the six nurses in the team for their hard and tireless work to develop this specialty."

He is also grateful for the encouragement received from colleagues in specialties including vascular surgery, urology, nephrology and gastroenterology, all areas interventional radiology works in with.

Dr Pandey says the service is always looking to expand its repertoire, and regularly checks its progress against other institutions around the world. He is certain Hawke’s Bay’s service is up with the best.

"We intend to extend our services based on the needs of the people of this region," he says.

Dr Pandey’s award was shared with Dr Kamal Karl a director of the Wellness Centre in Napier, and an active member of several prestigious medical bodies. He specialises in treating chronic illnesses and lectures to professional groups.

Judges said they had "real difficulty" choosing a winner because of the high calibre of backgrounds and expertise.

"It was quite humbling to run across people with extraordinary backgrounds - many had CVs to die for," the judges said of the finalists.

The Best Asian Practising Professional category of the Asians in the Bay Awards was sponsored by Carlile Dowling Lawyers.

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