Malachi Sheahan, M.D.
The Vascular Disease Revolution
Blood vessels are the roadways of the circulatory system, and their role is to carry oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to your organs and tissues. This network of vessels is referred to as the circulatory or vascular system. Any condition that affects this system is considered vascular disease, ranging from problems with your arteries, veins and vessels to disorders that affect how blood flows.
As Professor of Surgery and Program Director of the Vascular Surgery Residency and Fellowship Program at LSU Health Network, Dr. Malachi Sheahan has seen the effects of vascular disease on all types of people. “Vascular disease stems from many causes, from age and family history to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and lifestyle choices,” he says. “All of these factors can affect blood flow.”
A NEW ERA
The past 15 years has brought a new era in vascular disease treatment. Patients can now be treated with minimally invasive and non-invasive imaging of blood vessels and their lesions. Through technological innovations, such as magnetic resonance angiography and intravascular ultrasonography, the role of the vascular disease specialist has been redefined. “Vascular surgeons now possess expertise in all areas of vascular disease: medical management; percutaneous therapy; and surgical intervention,” Dr. Sheahan says. “We can now individualize therapy for each patient based on the possible risks or benefits.”
Over the past 10 years, vascular surgery has undergone a remarkable transition from traditional open surgery to state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures (endovascular therapy). “In the past, if we were performing surgery on a patient with an aortic aneurysm, we would have to make a large surgical incision,” Dr. Sheahan says. “The patient would spend a week in the hospital and the next two months recovering from surgery. Now with minimally invasive endovascular procedures, we can have our patients back to their lives within a few days.”
Board-certified in vascular surgery, Dr. Sheahan joined LSU in 2004. “Dr. Larry Hollier, who is one of my idols, was serving as the Dean of LSU Medical School at that time,” Dr. Sheahan says. “He and Dr. Robert Batson, the LSU Chair of Surgery, asked if I would come help with the fellowship training program. Now we have grown to be one of the largest vascular and endovascular surgery training centers in the world.” Serving as Chief Surgeon since 2012, Dr. Sheahan leads a team of nine vascular surgeons, including his wife, Dr. Claudie Sheahan, an Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery and Associate Program Director at LSU. His department is responsible for training up to 12 vascular surgeons per year. “Patients come here from all over the world and so we are able to treat some complex cases,” he says. “What I love about the vascular field is that it is constantly evolving to meet these challenges.”
On moving to New Orleans: “This is a fantastic place to raise our boys, ages 5, 8 and 12,” Dr. Sheahan says. “We love taking them to City Park, the Audubon Zoo, the Insectarium and of course, the parades!”
His advice for patients: “I treat all types of people, and the ones who live longest are active,” Dr. Sheahan says. “The best thing you can do for your vascular health is to keep moving and stop smoking.”
Malachi Sheahan, M.D.
Claude C. Craighead, Jr., Professor and Chair
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
LSU Healthcare Network
4500 10th St., Ste. B
Marrero, LA 70072
MEDICAL SCHOOL: Boston University School of Medicine
RESIDENCY: New York Medical College, General Surgery
FELLOWSHIPS: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Vascular Surgery
Harvard Medical School, Vascular Surgery Research Fellow
BOARD CERTIFICATIONS: Vascular Surgery