Vascular surgeon Dr. Michael Yacob on the Department of Surgery’s innovative work

Dr. Michael Yacob joined the Department of Surgery at Queen’s University in the summer of 2019, just months prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and weHeadshot of Dr. Michael Yacob had the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss some of the valuable work that he has been involved in during his time so far. “I am an attending vascular surgeon at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and an assistant professor through Queen’s University. Over the past two years I have had the incredible opportunity to care for a wide spectrum of patients with varying degrees of vascular disease in the midst of the significant health care challenges brought on by the global pandemic.” Dr. Yacob is one of the newest hires in the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and was brought on to further broaden the scope of services previously being provided. “In addition to a traditional vascular surgery practice, I also currently provide specialized care in venous disease and thoracic outlet syndromes. Both populations have high patient numbers in Kingston and previously these patients were referred to Ottawa, Toronto, or other neighboring centres,” he says. “I joined a group with two very experienced vascular surgeons, and together we have also expanded our scope of practice to include more technically complex aneurysms than ever before using some of the latest technology on the market. We also started an eConsult service which has become quite popular, and now primary care physicians have direct communication lines with us; this has significantly improved vascular care for patients in the community.”

The next step for the division of cardiovascular surgery is to optimize use of the new hybrid OR suite located at KGH. “This is going to allow us to work closely with colleagues in other specialties on hybrid cases similarly to how it works in other major centres across the country. Within a few months, we will be a centre of excellence for advanced vascular and endovascular surgery,” Dr. Yacob describes. “That’s the goal: to keep everything in Kingston, and now we have the knowledge, skill set, and technology to treat our patients locally. The hybrid suite was the last missing piece, and thanks to diligent hospital leadership, the construction of this specialized OR is now complete. Our department is presently emerging with even more services to offer, which is truly an incredible feat given the challenging health care climate posed by the pandemic across the country.” 

With regards to Dr. Yacob’s educational background, he obtained his Honours Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ottawa, and then went on to complete his medical degree at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland, before returning to Ottawa for his residency in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. “When I was completing my training, I quickly realized that a facility the size of KHSC was the perfect fit for me and would allow me the opportunity to become more involved at both an academic and clinical level. I also thrive to have a lasting impact on the community that I now live and work in.” During his time here, Dr. Yacob also completed his Master of Medical Education, where his research focused on residency education. “Specifically, I focused on first-year surgical trainees and studying what factors set-up residents for success.”  On top of his full-time academic and clinical load, Dr. Yacob feels that there is a need to continue doing clinical research in Vascular Surgery. “Our division is currently laying out the groundwork for a major trial on vein bypasses for the lower extremities, we are going to be looking at a vein’s virtual size on different imaging modalities, then we will compare this to the actual vein size in the operating room. We will aim to definitively determine which modality is better at predicting actual vein size in the operating room,” he explains. “we’re recruiting patients for the next year and we’ll have a lot of data to present at the national and international level. This is the kind of work that will end up in textbooks and changing practice patterns for arterial surgery, so we’re very excited about it.” 

Dr. Yacob describes how he wanted to build a new venous disease practice from the ground up. “All these cases are staying local now. The varicose vein and venous insufficiency practice has really taken off and there are a lot of patients out there who are now benefiting from either vein surgery, ablation, and/or sclerotherapy procedures.” he says. “Many patients have varicose veins, and previously if these patients wanted them treated, many ended up going out of the city for expert consultation. I offer our local patients the same procedures that one would see at high-end facilities across Europe and the USA. Our local patients are now receiving internationally-renowned vein treatments. In Kingston, we’re a medium-sized city that now has access to the world’s greatest technology.” 

“Now that Cardiac Surgery and Vascular Surgery have joined together,” Dr. Yacob says, “there is very little that our KHSC team cannot treat. We have the ability to repair everything in the circulatory system from the heart to the toes. We are now shoulder-to-shoulder with the country’s top hospitals and have been successfully managing many of the most surgically complex patients in the city and in the province.”