Friday, February 12, 2010

Featured Doctor: Scott Streckenbach

Scott Streckenbach, MD
Scott Streckenbach, MD

Cardiac Anesthesiologist Scott Streckenbach, MD, decided to join Mass General in part because of a connection with then-chairman Richard Kitz, MD.

"He and I were both from Wisconsin, and we were both big Packers fans," he said.

But something Dr. Kitz said also impressed him.

"He said that everybody who comes to interview at Mass General is smart, and they've got good resumes and good letters of recommendation," he said. "He said his job was simply to make sure that the people he interviewed were nice people. I liked that whole concept, so that's how I ended up here."

Dr. Streckenbach came to Mass General for his residency in 1992, finished a cardiac anesthesia fellowship in 1996, worked at Mass General from 1997-2004, and then left to work in a private practice group in Minnesota for three years. He returned two years ago because he missed academic anesthesia, he said.

"I actually preferred to live on the East Coast after thinking I wanted to live back in the Midwest," he said.

Dr. Streckenbach, who founded the perioperative electrophysiology service at Mass General, currently works in the OR and also mentors residents and fellows. He helps staff and residents manage pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) in the perioperative period on a daily basis.

In addition, Dr. Streckenbach is a national expert on perioperative electrophysiology and echocardiography and often lectures on these topics at national meetings. He is probably best known for his interest in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), a technique that allows doctors to assess the heart's function during heart surgery.

"It allows us to tell the surgeon whether or not the heart is working well. We can tell the surgeon if the valve repair was successful, and if not, why," he said. "It takes a significant amount of training to become certified in it, and obviously also to teach it."

Dr. Streckenbach is currently working with Mark Adams to create a formal program to teach TEE to Mass General residents. The program is scheduled to begin in February 2010.

In addition, Dr. Streckenbach recently participated in an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) task force. The group recently rewrote the perioperative guidelines for the use of TEE.

The document, "Practice Guidelines for Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography," will be published in the May issue of Anesthesiology, he said.

Dr. Streckenbach described working at Mass General as "a great privilege."

"One of the things that's really valuable is that you have so many contacts throughout the world in the anesthesia profession because of how many people have trained here," he said. "Those ties are perpetuated over the years, and it's nice to be able to feel connected to a lot of places."

"Mass General has a great history, it has a great hospital leadership, and it attracts very high-caliber residents and fellows," he said.

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