edward damrose, md
Published on September 25, 2016
Pleased to post an interview with Dr. Edward Damrose, laryngeal surgeon.
TVF: Where do you currently practice/teach?
ED: Stanford University Medical Center and School of Medicine
TVF: What is your primary patient population?
ED: Adult patients with voice, airway and swallowing disorders, and disease of the head and neck.
TVF: Where did you complete your medical training? Laryngology?
ED: All training was completed at University of California, Los Angeles and laryngology fellowship was completed at UCLA under the mentorship of Gerald S. Berke, MD.
TVF: What comes to your mind as one of the most pressing issues in contemporary voice disorders?
ED: The ability to address scarring of the vocal fold-successful treatments has been elusive and the capacity to regenerate injured layers could improve or restore voicing for countless patients. This is a world-wide issue.
TVF: What is your research interest?
ED: I am interested in the pathophysiology of idiopathic subglottic stenosis - an airway scarring disease that primarily affects women. It is a fascinating but relentless disease that is in need of better treatments. To that end, we need to understand what causes the disease, something in which I have been interested for many years.
TVF: In what ways can your research be applied in the clinical field?
ED: We think there is a hormonal link which impairs proper wound healing in this area. If we can understand this link, we can potentially control or manipulate this. Or we may be able to understand who is at risk for the disease and formulate ways to control it.
TVF: In your opinion, what poses the greatest challenge in care of voice disorders?
ED: The valuation of voicing determining reimbursement decisions and national funding priorities. Normal voicing is the key to quality of life, personal and artistic expression, musical creativity and so much more. I think treatment tends to be viewed at a lower priority than other diseases, such as sinus disease for example, which may dissuade physicians from specializing in laryngology or patient from seeking care.
TVF: In your opinion, what are some of the most important advances made in the field of laryngology in the recent years?
ED: The maturation of transoral endoscopic surgery (both robotic and laser assisted) to treat cancer, allowing more choices for patients to treat their cancers while preserving the normal laryngeal functions of voicing, breathing and swallowing
TVF: What is your vocal pet peeve and why?
ED: I feel too many laryngeal disorders are misdiagnosed as reflux, and as a result the diagnosis has lost validity. It’s an overused diagnosis which we now know can lead to inappropriate use of medications, with significant morbidity to patients.
TVF: Which vocal myth would you like to dispel?
ED: That reflux is the major cause of voice disorders.
TVF: What is your most memorable voice case?
ED: A patient of mine with laryngeal cancer who has become a good friend; he was told he needed a total laryngectomy following failure of radiation therapy; I was able to successfully perform a partial laryngectomy and he has been disease free and voicing well for many years; his experience influenced him to become an advocate for patients with head and neck cancer.
TVF: As a laryngologist/surgeon, what keeps you on your toes?
ED: As an academic laryngologist, finding new ways to be a better teacher to my residents and fellows. It is a process of constant reflection, introspection, and reinvention!
TVF: What do you think the next steps are in growing the field of laryngology and voice rehabilitation?
ED: Recognizing laryngology as a separate and distinct discipline within otolaryngology departments; promoting subcertification much as neuro-otology has done.
TVF: What can voice pathologists learn from laryngologists, and vice versa?
ED: Voice pathologists should spend time in the operating room watching how surgery is performed, and shadowing the laryngologist in clinic to gain perspective on how laryngologists view clinical problems.
Laryngologists should spend time with voice pathologists studying how voice analysis is performed, and how therapy is given.
TVF: Who have been your most important mentors?
Ed: Gerald Berke – who fostered my career through medical school and residency.
Willard Fee and Richard Goode - who were instrumental in my faculty recruitment and in helping me to develop my practice.
Peter Koltai – Our chief of pediatric otolaryngology, my close friend and supporter, who introduced me to our professional societies.
Robert Jackler – my chairman who supported me in starting a division of laryngeal surgery within our department.
TVF: What is your advice in mentoring future laryngologists?
ED: Develop a rich and varied mental atlas of laryngeal pathology – the eye cannot see what the mind does not know. If you listen closely enough, the patient will tell you everything you need to know.
TVF: What advice do you have for aspiring laryngologists and voice scientists?
ED: Explore where others have not ventured before: ask questions that have not been asked before; look for big solutions to big problems.
TVF: What advice would you like to give to the general populace about voice care?
ED: Care for your voice as you would any priceless instrument, and be leery of pills and quick fixes.
TVF: Who are your favorite singers?
ED: Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Diana Krall
TVF: What sparks "joy" for you as a person?
ED: A job well done!