New director named for UH Center for Voice Airway and Swallowing Disorders
March 04, 2019
Dr. Scott Howard brings unique insight and experience to nationally recognized center
Innovations in Ear, Nose & Throat - Winter 2019
N. Scott Howard, MD, MBA has treated military referrals from around the world, but certain cases stand out. One soldier received life-saving battlefield care from a medic in his Special Forces Unit after a bullet tore through his larynx. Dr. Howard performed three open surgeries to stabilize and repair the catastrophic damage.
“We did a rib graft to support his airway, reconstructed tissues around the trachea and were able to make new vocal cords utilizing buccal tissue,” Dr. Howard says, “Today he runs two miles faster than I can. It was amazing to take someone from that place to a point where he is completely functional.”
This January, Dr. Howard joined University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center as the Director of the UH Center for Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders and Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. A head and neck surgeon, he has unique skills in laryngeal and tracheal reconstruction following traumatic injury. He also has experience in transoral robotic and laser surgery for treatment of tumors of the larynx and complex obstructive sleep apnea.
“Dr. Howard is a tremendous addition to our nationally recognized center,” says Nicole C. Maronian, MD, Director of the UH Ear, Nose and Throat Institute at UH Cleveland Medical Center, and Julius McCall Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “He not only brings expertise in both open and endoscopic surgical airway reconstruction but also a passion for research in subglottic stenosis. His contributions will greatly advance the care we provide to our patients who require complex airway management.”
Dr. Howard graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an Armor Officer, serving five years before deciding to study medicine. He earned his medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine and went on to complete an Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“I did my training at Walter Reed at the height of the Iraq war,” he says. “We treated patients with neck and airway injuries, numerous people who were trach dependent or had no voice. At that time, there was no national center or advanced algorithm for airway care.”
Dr. Howard became the first Army physician to pursue a fellowship in laryngology, studying under Gerald S. Berke, MD, Chair of UCLA’s Department of Head and Neck Surgery and an international authority on laryngeal physiology. Post fellowship, he continued his military service, holding numerous clinical and leadership positions.
A TRIP TO CLEVELAND
After deciding he wanted to transition to an academic medical center, Dr. Howard met Dr. Maronian at a national conference and accepted her invitation to visit UH Cleveland Medical Center. “The team was amazing and I was so impressed by the way I was received during my interview. I felt my experience could add value to the great work that was happening here,” Dr. Howard says. “I also had the opportunity to walk around downtown Cleveland and was pleasantly surprised by how much is going on around the city — culture, sports and the largest theater district outside Manhattan.”
In his role as director, Dr. Howard continues to foster a multidisciplinary team approach to identify caring, optimal treatment plans for each patient. He is also conducting research on airway injury and novel therapies. With funding secured through the Army Advanced Medical Technology Initiative (AAMTI), he is studying subglottic stenosis and laryngeal injury, with a focus on adapting treatment to reduce postop subglottal scarring.
PASSION FOR TEACHINGDr. Howard says he is excited about his role as a teacher and mentor to UH otolaryngology residents and medical students. “If all I did was care for patients, I would care for hundreds — maybe thousands — of patients,” he says. “With teaching, that multiplies.”
He adds that he enjoys brainstorming different approaches through his interactions with residents, noting that teaching is a great opportunity to stay on the forefront in medicine.
With a national training mindset, Dr. Maronian has plans to leverage Dr. Howard’s expertise in surgical simulation to teach resident learners through UH’s nationally recognized ENT Boot Camp. She says she would also like to offer a CME course in airway management in the near future.
Dr. Howard sees patients at UH Cleveland Medical Center, UH Richmond Medical Center and UH Minoff Health Center at Chagrin Highlands.
For more information, call the UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute at (216) 844-6000 or contact Dr. Howard at N.Scott.Howard@UHhospitals.org.