Dr. Raghuram Sekhar : Striving to Bridge Gaps in India's Medical Infrastructure for Vascular Treatments

Dr. Raghuram Sekhar,  Consultant - Vascular & Endovascular Surgery

Dr. Raghuram Sekhar

Consultant - Vascular & Endovascular Surgery

Although a crucial specialty of healthcare, vascular surgery is underrepresented in India. A lack of public awareness about vascular health stops surgeons from entering the field, therefore there is a sheer scarcity of manpower. In 2021, just three years ago, a report by the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery revealed that India had only 400 active practitioners for 1.4 billion people. Limited training opportunities, higher initial salaries in other medical specialties, and a lack of facilities in many government colleges make it difficult for aspiring surgeons to pursue this specialty. Despite the efforts of the Vascular Society of India, established in 1995, the specialty remains relatively nascent. Dr. Raghuram Sekhar has been an influential person since the time the field began to gain prominence in the country. He is one of the inspirations for many doctors to pursue vascular surgery as a specialization. With nearly three decades of experience, Dr. Sekhar is currently serving as a consultant – for vascular and endovascular surgery at Kokilaben Hospital.

The Journey

Dr. Sekhar completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in medical education at Calcutta University. He joined the government service for a couple of years, which took him to various parts of the country, from Rajasthan to Gujarat and finally to Mumbai. It was during this time that his interest in vascular diseases took root. In the mid1990s, he went to the UK to pursue his higher studies, and that is where he got an opportunity to study under the guidance of Robin Knox, a Consultant Vascular Surgeon. From him, he witnessed the wonders that vascular surgery can do. After returning to India, Dr. Sekhar joined the same government organization and worked with them for the Ministry of Railways for a number of years, helping them to establish a vascular surgery service. In the late 2000s, he was awarded the national award by the Government of India for setting up a vascular service in that organization.

During his journey, Dr. Sekhar visited many centers off and on, starting with Germany,
where he learned carotid disease surgery. He went on a fellowship to Cologne and learned various subspecialties, such as endovascular therapy. He also visited centers in Spain, Switzerland, and Italy on fellowships to pick up finer nuances of vascular disease therapy. In 2010, Dr. Sekhar voluntarily retired from the Ministry of Railways and joined Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai as the head of the vascular and endovascular surgery. He credits the hospital for providing an environment that fosters growth and academic freedom, allowing him to evolve as a vascular surgeon.

Inspiration & Future Goals

Dr. Sekhar's passion for vascular surgery stemmed from noticing the devastating consequences of arterial diseases. He encountered numerous cases of gangrene leading to amputations, a stark reminder of the unmet needs in vascular care. This fueled his desire to specialize in a field that could offer patients a better chance at retaining their limbs and improving their quality of life. Dr. Sekhar's formative years as a vascular surgeon was a crucial period when vascular surgery just started gaining prominence; lacking training programs and access to advanced techniques.

Dr. Sekhar finds his greatest satisfaction not in personal awards, but in mentoring & inspiring younger doctors to become successful vascular surgeons

His decision to pursue this path wasn't just about personal fulfillment, it was a commitment to be part of building a robust vascular surgery infrastructure in the country. From witnessing the limitations of open surgery to embracing the advancements in endovascular techniques, his career path has seen the best of both. He skillfully handles the complexities of open bypass surgeries using grafts, while also mastering the minimally invasive approach of endovascular procedures with balloons and stents. This adaptability positions him as a well-rounded vascular surgeon, equipped to tackle a wide range of arterial conditions.

Looking ahead, Dr. Sekhar hopes for greater access to vascular surgery services for the general population, especially in government healthcare settings where such services are currently limited. He concludes, “The critical shortage of manpower is particularly concerning with India's position as the global diabetes capital. It is a major health concern that can cause arterial disease, leading to blockages and other serious issues like limb ischemia. So there is a dire need for skilled vascular surgeons in India and my goal is to inspire the nextgen doctors to choose vascular surgery and make a difference”.