Vascular surgery services chief appointed

Mellick T. Sykes, MD, is the new head of the vascular surgery service at he Health Science Center and affiliated hospitals.

Formerly in private practice in San Antonio, Dr. Sykes is nationally recognized for his contributions in the management of venous diseases of the chest and neck.

"Dr. Sykes brings excellent surgical skills and techniques as well as award-winning expertise in teaching," said Harlan D. Root, MD, PhD, professor, deputy chairman of surgery and prior head of vascular surgery. "Dr. Waid Rogers and I are pleased to have him join our vascular surgery team."

Dr. Sykes has spoken nationally on aspects of arterial reconstructive surgery, and has special interests in thoraco- abdominal aortic surgery, renal and visceral ischemic problems, and vascular problems of the diabetic, particularly lower extremity ischemia.

A graduate of Princeton University and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, he completed his general surgery residency in San Antonio in 1982. In 1983 he was a fellow in vascular surgery at Vanderbilt University and earned a master's degree in anatomy from the Health Science Center.

"Teaching vascular surgery is always an exciting proposition, and I'm looking forward to our establishing a first-rate fellowship in vascular surgery in cooperation with the excellent vascular programs at the military hospitals and the superb private vascular surgical community," Dr. Sykes said.

"San Antonio has a large population that has benefited from the university vascular service. The resources of the university and the city are tremendous in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular problems. Despite this, San Antonio is the largest city in the nation without a fellowship in the field."

The university's vascular surgery program is recognized by the American Board of Surgery for treating more patients on average than any other similar service in the country. Patients are seen at University Hospital, the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital and the University Clinic.

Some of these patients come from San Antonio's older, retired population, many of whom smoke. The region's high percentage of Hispanics, who are more subject to diabetes, also helps provide a large patient population.

Surgeons report that an above-national average incidence of diabetes mellitus in area Hispanics causes a high incidence of toe and foot ulcers among patients, threatening limb survival. Surgeons work with podiatrists to assess and treat these patients.

The diagnostic and treatment team for vascular diseases is supported by radiologists, podiatrists, orthopaedists and ambulation specialists who help patients with walking and other movements.