When he was a medical student, Charles Matouk, MD, met a patient with rapidly progressive dementia and weakness on the right side of his body. He recalls being “astonished” when the patient’s symptoms were fully reversed within a few weeks of having an endovascular procedure in his brain to disconnect an abnormal blood vessel (a vascular malformation) that had been causing the problem. The patient was cured. This experience was so memorable to Dr. Matouk that it inspired his decision to pursue a specialty in neurovascular surgery.
Now the chief of neurovascular surgery at Yale Medicine, Dr. Matouk has expertise in brain aneurysms, vascular malformations of the brain and spinal cord, carotid occlusive disease, acute stroke syndromes and adult-onset hydrocephalus. “In medicine today, a lot of the work that doctors do is either preventative or palliative,” Dr. Matouk remarks. “However, in neurosurgery we are able to use a simple, minimally invasive procedure can actually change everything for a patient. Their disease can be cured.”
As a surgeon, Dr. Matouk focuses on treating each patient as a person. “I hope that what I can provide patients is the opportunity to tell me their story and concerns,” he says. “It’s a partnership. My fundamental role is to help patients make an informed decision that’s right for them.” To help patients understand their conditions and treatment options, Dr. Matouk likes to show them the radiology pictures of their brain, and to sketch out what will happen during the procedure. He often encourages patients to go home and think about the information presented before making a decision to proceed.
In addition to caring for patients, Dr. Matouk is an assistant professor of neurosurgery and of radiology & biomedical imaging. He conducts clinical research on advanced imaging to help determine which aneurysms and vascular malformations are higher risk and should be prioritized for treatment, and which can be watched safely overtime.