Saral Mehra, MD, MBA, is a Yale Medicine surgeon who treats patients with head and neck cancers, sometimes performing complex microsurgeries that take many hours. He performs more salivary endoscopies than any other surgeon in Connecticut; because of his widely recognized expertise, he treats patients with complex salivary disease who are sent to him from all over the state. Dr. Mehra provides minimally invasive treatment of salivary gland and duct problems, including salivary stones, using tiny scopes. He is able to perform these procedures without making any external incisions. “I use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible, and I implement the latest in reconstructive surgery to optimize form and function,” he says.
Whatever problem he is treating, Dr. Mehra notes that be believes in spending time with patients to explain their condition and let them know that they are not alone is a key element in compassionate care. “When talking about a new diagnosis of cancer, I like to take the time to discuss the work-up, treatment, functional recovery and surveillance plan—this helps alleviate some of the fear of the unknown. It’s satisfying to look at the faces of a patient and their family when they go from being frightened of a new diagnosis to understanding the journey they are about to embark upon.”
Dr. Mehra says he enjoys being a physician for Yale Medicine because the practice has so many patients with complex head and neck tumors and patients who need reconstruction. “With high volume comes processes and systems that lead to better outcomes for patients,” he says. He often works collaboratively as a member of a team that includes other surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists, as well as nurses, therapists, social workers and patient coordinators. “For patients who are to undergo surgery, the consultations, meetings and case review are all preparation for the big event—surgery—where, again, I put a team together to get the best patient outcomes,” he says.
Dr. Mehra is an assistant professor of surgery (otolaryngology) at Yale School of Medicine. In addition to cancer and reconstructive surgery, he researches ways to improve the process of delivering cancer care. “This is important work, because we know that whenever we can improve upon the ways that we deliver cancer care, the better our outcomes will be,” he says.