Dr. Jon Kittredge joined Delaware Bay Surgical Service in September and in October was approved for surgery and vascular procedures at Beebe Medical Center.
He said his skills are a good match for the Cape Region and he feels at home in the Lewes practice.
Kittredge said his philosophy for surgery aligned with the partners already in place off Savannah Road.
"In talking with Dr. Mayer Katz, I got sold on this area," Kittredge said. "There's such a need for vascular surgeons here, and I felt comfortable with the other partners."
Kittredge started in September and was approved for
"There are a lot of patients here with a lot of needs, but they don't always need surgery," Kittredge said. "My training gives me a broader perspective when it comes to surgery and other procedures."
Kittredge grew up in Philadelphia and after graduating from the University of Virgina, he returned to Philadelphia for medical school at Hahnemann School of Medicine, which was later acquired by Drexel University. He started out in obstetrics, but he soon realized it wasn't for him.
He attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he received a masters degree in biomedical engineering. He decided to try surgery and landed an internship at Beth Israel Deaconness, a Harvard University hospital in Boston.
He finished his surgical residency at SUNY Buffalo and later completed a fellowship at University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center before moving to Lewes.
"It's a place I thought I would make a difference," said Kittredge, who moved to the Long Neck area with his wife.
Expanding surgical knowledge
Kittredge said vascular surgery has really changed in the last decade. The procedures can be divided into two types - open vascular surgery and endovascular procedures.
Medical students often train in only one area, Kittredge said, but he received training in both.
Open vascular surgery includes bypasses and aortic alterations, which require the surgeon to open a patient's chest to get access to the heart.
Endovascular procedures are less invasive and include stints and angiography. These procedures can also be performed by cardiologists.
"The advantage of going to a vascular surgeon is that he is trained to do everything to treat that disease," Kittredge said. "Having the extra knowledge allows me to choose the best treatment option for my patients."
Kittredge said different arteries respond better to certain procedures. For example, an artery in the groin area moves frequently as the patient walks. To clear a blockage, a stent might not be the best option, because it could wear down over time with the constant movement, Kittredge said.
He said he would consider cleaning the artery and applying a patch, which is more flexible and could last longer.
"Often, as a surgeon, I have to think about the future and whether this patient will need additional procedures down the road," Kittredge said. "That could change what the best option is for that patient."
Besides removing arterial blockages, Kittredge also works with patients who have vein diseases, as well as those who are on dialysis. For dialysis patients, he might install a higher-capacity vein near the wrist to allow for easier access during hemodialysis treatments, which require blood to be filtered outside of the body.
Kittredge said the Lewes practice has so far not focused on hemodialysis, but could do more of the procedures now that he has joined the practice.
Risk factors for disease
Vascular disease is often found in older patients, but other risk factors include obesity, smoking and diabetes.
As the population continues to age and gain weight, Kittredge said the number of people with vascular diseases will only increase.
"The majority of my patients are over 65 and on Medicare," he said. "We try to work with all insurance companies."
As people age, arteries become blocked, which can affect blood flow to the heart and brain.
"Here we look to evidence-based research, which shows the best treatment methods," Kittredge said. "Our philosophy is to do everything that can be done and help guide the patient to the best treatment."
Kittredge said he plans to work with Beebe officials to bring back a carotid artery stenting program. Carotid stenting is an endovascular, catheter-based procedure which unblocks narrowings of the carotid artery to prevent a stroke, but hospital doctors are not currently doing the procedure.
Kittredge has performed these procedures and hopes he can eventually provide them for Cape Region patients.
"It's really important to have stenting as an option for patients," Kittredge said. "I hope to meet with Beebe by the end of the year."
For more information or to make an appointment with Delaware Bay Surgical, call 302-644-4954 or go to www.delawarebaysurgical.com.