Breakthroughs are often associated with advancements in technology. However, the successful impact of a medical marvel requires capable, committed, and caring professionals who use new science and insight to change lives. Here, five of our 864 Top Doctors speak to critical ways medicine is evolving in their fields and how this is transforming detection, treatment, healing, and overall well-being for patients of all ages.
Dr. P. Gigi Chawla - Top Doctor 2016
Dr. P. Gigi Chawla
Specialty: Pediatrics focused on the care of complex patients
Hospital/Clinic: Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Years Practicing Medicine: 16
One of our biggest game-changers is our virtual connection to patients and families [which is expanding to more patients and doctors]. Our vision is to be every patient and family’s essential partner in raising healthier children. We really believe we will have that through our telehealth program, MDLive. From a primary care standpoint, we envision being able to connect directly with a patient and do clinical care virtually from home. There are probably a million ways it offers better care, like offering care at a time that patients want to access it in a way that is comfortable. We’re exploring creating this telehealth program for schools, to better care for our special needs patients with chronic health conditions, and help school nurses deliver care and keep them at school and healthy.”
Added Insight: Any patient can benefit from the telehealth visits, but the patients who probably will benefit most are those who need follow-up appointments after a medication change, or those who need follow-up appointments for behavior concerns or mental health issues.
Dr. J. Chris Coetzee
Dr. J. Chris Coetzee
Specialty: Orthopedic surgery focused on the foot and ankle
Clinic: Twin Cities Orthopedics in Edina
Years Practicing Medicine: 23
We have a new way of surgically repairing ankle ligament injuries that allows patients to be active again in two to three months instead of six to nine months. It’s called an internal brace. You repair the ligament like normal. Then you use a mesh-like structure, somewhat similar to what is used for hernias, put it on top of the repair, and anchor it to the bone with biodegradable swivel locks. It prevents ligaments from overstretching during healing. Patients can be full weight–bearing on day one and in physical therapy in two to four weeks. We’re seeing better outcomes and it’s a much quicker recovery. And because of the brace, the likelihood of re-injury is minimal. The results are spectacular.”
Added Insight: This new approach will benefit mainly ligamentous foot injuries, including lateral and deltoid ankle injuries (inside and outside the ankle), as well as the mid-foot and bottom of the foot.
Dr. Laura A. Dean
Dr. Laura A. Dean
Specialty: Obstetrics and gynecology
Hospital/Clinic: Stillwater Medical Group, Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater
Years Practicing Medicine: 20
Cancer genetics is going to make a huge impact on obstetrics and gynecology as we understand better how cancer happens. We’ll not only be able to treat it, but we will get to the point where we can identify high-risk people. Some genetics are used today for breast and ovarian cancer. If we can diagnose cancer earlier, then it’s more treatable, less intervention is needed, and there are fewer side effects. Eventually we’ll get to the point where we’ve identified this genetic predisposition to cancer. Then we can do things to prevent cancer, and that’s the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Added Insight: Currently, the CA-125 blood test is used for diagnosing ovarian cancer, but it’s not sensitive enough for general ovarian cancer screening. It’s most effective when women already are experiencing symptoms of the disease. When someone has ovarian cancer and high CA-125 levels, oncologists often can use information from the test, such as the tumor markers, to guide treatment plans.
Dr. Christopher Knoedler Sr.
Specialty: Urology with a special interest in prostate cancer
Clinic: Metro Urology, St. Paul and Maplewood
Years Practicing Medicine: 27
Robert Gaertner, my surgical partner for 12 years, and I have done more than 3,200 robotic surgeries together to remove cancerous prostates. The biggest technological change in diagnosing prostate cancer is the MRI/ultrasound fusion. A computer overlays the two images, and now we can see right where we need to go for biopsies. Before, it might take multiple biopsies to find the cancer. Now it’s a 10-minute procedure. It’s the most exciting thing that’s been happening in my field. The key with prostate cancer is picking it up early and before it spreads. In guys who we’re pretty sure have cancer, we can find it earlier and at a more treatable stage.”
Added Insight: Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, according to the American Cancer Society. There are about 180,000 new cases each year, and about 26,000 people die annually from prostate cancer, down from 40,000 20 years ago.
The 20th edition of our Top Doctors list includes 864 doctors in 45 specialties. Here’s how we put it together:
When compiling a list that’s as relied upon as our annual Top Doctors list, research is essential. We asked physicians to nominate one or more doctors (excluding themselves) to whom they would go if they or a loved one were seeking medical care. From there, candidates were grouped into 45 specialties and evaluated on myriad factors, including (but not limited to) peer recognition, professional achievement, and disciplinary history. Doctors who had the highest scores from each grouping were invited to serve on a blue-ribbon panel that evaluated the other candidates. In the end, only doctors who acquired the highest total points from the surveys, research, and blue-ribbon panel review were selected as Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s 2016 Top Doctors.
Of course, no list is perfect. Many qualified doctors who are providing excellent care to their patients are not included on this year’s list. However, if you’re looking for exceptional physicians who have earned the confidence and high regard of their peers, you can start your search here (or go to mspmag.com/medicalguide). In addition to the list you find here, this year’s crop of Top Doctors will join a prestigious group of doctors from more than 20 cities around the country who have been selected to Super Doctors, the full list of which you can find at superdoctors.com.
Editor’s Note: Many of our Top Doctors have specialty certification recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. This board certification requires substantial additional training in a doctor’s area of practice. We encourage you to discuss this board certification with your doctor to determine its relevance to your medical needs. More information about board certification is available at abms.org. © 2016 MSP Communications. All rights reserved.