If neurosurgeons are rare enough that their specialty is comparable to rocket science, then endovascular neurosurgeons are even more uncommon. This subspecialty uses catheters and radiology to treat neurological conditions much the same way a cardiologist uses stents or shunts. But then there are vascular neurosurgeons, the unicorns of the medical field. Their training is so specialized that it often takes over 18 years to complete, and they can treat conditions like strokes, brain aneurysms, and spinal hemorrhages. In Dr. Abhineet Chowdhary, Olympia Orthopaedics Associates (OOA) has acquired all three.
The latest physician to join the OlyOrtho team, Chowdhary will also serve as the director of the stroke program at the Providence St. Peter Regional Neuroscience Center, a role formerly performed by Dr. Joseph Ho. Chowdhary is looking forward to building on the success the program has already achieved. “Essentially, I’m taking over Dr. Ho’s practice to provide emergent stroke care,” says Chowdhary. “It means that if someone has a sudden stroke in Thurston County, we’ll be able to take care of it here without having to transfer them up to Seattle or Tacoma.”
OlyOrtho already has two neurosurgeons focused on nerve and spinal cord issues in Dr. Ryan Halpin and Dr. Andrew Manista. Chowdhary’s expertise in vascular and endovascular procedures will round out the services the group can provide. He is leaving behind a home in Seattle and practice in Bellevue and will begin seeing patients in Olympia on April 12.
The move is a good fit for several reasons. Despite living in Seattle since 2002, with a break to do a fellowship in London, Chowdhary grew up on farms in Ohio and Missouri. “I’m more comfortable in a rural setting,” he explains. “It’s easier to get to trails in Olympia and to access some of the water activities I enjoy like fishing and boating.” Having recently bought a house in the area, he’s looking forward to exploring the many outdoor recreation opportunities the South Sound has to offer.
On the professional side, the private nature of OlyOrtho’s practice means that he can determine what is best for patient care without dictates from hospital administrators. “That autonomy is what drew me to Olympia Orthopaedic Associates,” says Chowdhary. “I have the ability to make decisions that I feel are best for patients.”
As specialized as his field is, it’s continually changing and that is part of its appeal. “I like helping people, and within medicine, I like innovation,” he says. “Doing the same thing over and over would get boring for me. The beauty of neurosurgery is that it’s an ever-evolving field.” As an example, due to advances in stroke care, doctors can reverse strokes in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes, whereas previously the process would take up to four hours. Surgeons can access the brain through arteries in the wrist or leg rather than creating an opening in the head.
The results can seem like miracles. In his Bellevue practice, Chowdhary saw patients who would consult him after they’d been given four other medical opinions from surgeons or pain specialists. No one had been able to assist them, even when the cause of their problem was evident. But with new and innovative surgical techniques, he could help people who had been experiencing debilitating pain, in some cases for decades, to get their lives back.
“It’s so psychologically and physically wearing to be in pain for that long,” Chowdary notes. “To be able to help them out of that and back to function is so life-changing. Getting them to the point where they can go to the grocery store, take care of the kids and walk the dog without having to worry about pain, that’s why we do what we do.”
His treatment is so effective that some of his Seattle-area patients have decided to continue their care with him, despite the longer drive, and the OlyOrtho staff has been working to ease that transition. “The team has been really helpful,” he says. “They’ve been fantastic about getting people in as quickly as possible so there’s no wait to get their problems addressed.”
As he gets ready to open his doors at OlyOrtho, Chowdhary believes his services will be a benefit to the community. “I’m really looking forward to taking care of patients,” he says, “and hopefully, getting them back to doing what they want to do as quickly as possible.”
Learn more by visiting the Olympia Orthopaedic Associates website or calling 360.570.3460.