Dr Vijay Ramachandran is the only qualified Surgical Gastroenterologist in Mangalore and Dakshina Kannada district. He did MBBS and MS at Calicut Medical College and MCh in GI Surgery at AIIMS, New Delhi. He has also obtained FRCS from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He received training in some of the finest institutions in India and abroad, including AIIMS, New Delhi, SGPGIMS, Lucknow, MSKCC, New York, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore. His areas of interest include Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery, Laparoscopic Surgery for Gastrointestinal Cancers, Hepato Pancreato Biliary Surgery and Re-operative Abdominal Surgery. Dr Vijay tells Future Medicine what led him to become a surgeon and what are the qualities of a surgeon
By Dipin Damodharan
Inspiration to become a surgeon
I grew up watching my father, Dr S V Ramachandran, who was a senior surgeon in Palakkad district. The art of curing illness greatly appealed to me. After joining MBBS, I used to watch my father perform surgeries and I naturally took a liking for it. The very fact that the surgeon has the power to help patients get rid of cancer caught my attention ever since my uncle was operated on for colorectal cancer. All these cemented my determination to become a surgeon.
Memorable surgical experience
After completing my higher surgical training, I decided to start my practice in Mangalore. One of the complicated cases which I performed early in my career was a patient who had undergone an open cholecystectomy earlier (outside) and subsequently developed an iatrogenic bile duct injury. She was referred to me with florid cholangitis and septic shock (An entity we refer to as Reynold’s Pentad). As attempts at non-surgical intervention (ERCP) failed, I had to perform a complicated Biliary Stricture repair in the middle of the night. The patient did remarkably well and was discharged after 10 days. Her husband remains ever indebted to me and often visits Mangalore....just to see me and enquire about my wellbeing!
Qualities of a surgeon
My surgical mentor Dr P Rajan at Calicut Medical College used to say that a surgeon should have 3Cs - Competence, Confidence and Compassion. Never have truer words been spoken!
Ethics in a surgeon’s life
Ethics to a doctor is what devotion to a priest.
Suggestions for improvement in the healthcare system
I would strongly argue for free universal healthcare through a Comprehensive Medical Insurance, to be implemented by the government. Till then, treatment should be made affordable to the common man. Transparency and communication skills are vital assets for a surgeon.