In keeping with his bi-coastal practice of phrenic nerve surgery, Dr. Matthew Kaufman—the only known expert to perform phrenic nerve surgery– recently performed several procedures in California. During the last week of January 2014, he operated on two patients at UCLA, and one at Kaiser Permanente, at its branch in West Los Angeles. This brings his total number of phrenic nerve surgeries to 112. As in past trips to UCLA, Dr. Kaufman performed the surgeries with Dr. Reza Jarrahy of the UCLA Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.
As many other of Dr. Kaufman’s phrenic nerve patients, these most recent—all from California– discovered him and his groundbreaking procedure via the Internet. Although Dr. Kaufman’s phrenic nerve patients come from throughout the U.S. and other countries, his current ability to perform surgery regularly on both the East and West Coast has expanded the potential solutions for the many people suffering from phrenic nerve problems.
In the recent surgeries, both patients were middle-aged men. One had experienced problems resulting from rotator cuff surgery in 2013, involving a nerve block. The common incidence of phrenic nerve injury as a result of surgical nerve blocks was recently the topic of Dr. Kaufman’s article in the Anesthesia Journal.
The second man had what is termed idiopathic (no discernible cause) phrenic nerve damage. Despite being physically fit and active, this patient had struggled while performing any activities requiring exertion. Although results can take from months to a year to be fully realized, in his case, he awoke from phrenic nerve surgery with Dr. Kaufman and reported that he immediately felt better.
Ease of Setting Up Evaluation for Phrenic Nerve Procedure
In the case of one patient, it was a mere 8 weeks from initial contact to the date of surgery (the average time from initial contact to surgery is 3 to 4 months). Each potential candidate deals first and foremost with Heather O’Neill, Dr. Kaufman’s assistant, who acquires his/her medical records. O’Neill then begins the process of evaluation, which includes a telephone consultation with the potential patient and Dr. Kaufman.
Adding to the ease and efficiency of treatment, although he continues to perform the surgery in New Jersey (the next patient, who is from Florida, is due to undergo the procedure in several weeks), including an upcoming spinal cord injured patient seeking to be freed from ventilator-dependence—Dr. Kaufman will also be continuing his bi-coastal duties with an upcoming trip to UCLA in August.
Medical Community Awareness
In his approximately half-dozen peer reviewed articles and medical chapter, Dr. Kaufman is gaining increased awareness for his phrenic nerve surgery among his peers in the medical community. Says Dr. Kaufman, “We are now breaking through to the medical community. There is much more acceptance both through our publications and a greater awareness on the part of pulmonary doctors because they are seeing our patients from all over the country.”
Concludes Dr. Kaufman, “From the standpoint of our experience and success, we are continuing to reaffirm the evaluation and treatment of phrenic nerve patients. This validates our methods. What’s more, we are constantly striving to improve our success. How we acquire and evaluate patients is part of that success.”
Read more on his phrenic nerve procedure, including patient stories.