Robert Udelsman, M.D., M.B.A., chair and William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Yale-New Haven Hospital, is the president-elect of the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, a global society of more than 400 surgical specialists.
Udelsman’s innovations have made Yale one of the world’s premier centers for the surgical treatment of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP), an uncommon disease in which one of the parathyroid glands in the neck enlarges and produces too much hormone. Too much parathyroid hormone (PTH) causes bone loss, kidney stones, and other health problems.
Surgery for PHP usually requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay of several days. In Udelsman’s approach, now adopted by other endocrine surgeons at Yale, the patient receives local anesthesia and only a small incision is made. Because PTH levels must drop sufficiently for surgeons to be confident that the treatment will be successful, at Yale a lab technician stationed in the operating room checks hormone levels immediately, rather than sending a blood sample to another part of the hospital. The entire procedure typically takes half an hour, and the patient returns home the same day.
Udelsman, who joined the Yale faculty in 2001, received his M.D. from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1981 and completed his surgical residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was chief resident. He also completed fellowships in surgical oncology at the National Cancer Institute, in endocrinology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and in gastrointestinal surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.