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Question and Answer with Dr. Burkhardt

Headshot of Jan-Karl Burkhardt, MDJan-Karl Burkhardt, MD, is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine. Dr. Burkhardt sees patients at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and specializes in the treatment of complex and pre-treated neurovascular conditions, as well as the treatment of moyamoya and other vessel occlusions.

What conditions do you treat at Penn Medicine?

I am fortunate to be a dual-trained vascular neurosurgeon and I treat patients with vessel conditions in the spine, neck and brain using open microsurgical and endovascular treatment techniques. This includes conditions such as aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), cerebral cavernous malformations, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage, acute stroke, and chronic vessel stenosis or occlusion. In addition, I perform cerebral revascularization surgeries, including extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) and intracranial-intracranial (IC-IC) bypass procedures, to increase blood flow to the brain for patients with moyamoya disease or vessel occlusions and those who have decreased blood flow due to aneurysms or other diseases.

What is the most exciting thing about being a part of the Penn neurosurgery team?

Being part of such a prestigious university and traditional neurosurgical department makes me proud, and I am looking forward to being part of the Penn team’s daily efforts in improving patient care and pushing for innovation and education in neurosurgery.

What is your philosophy on patient care?

For me, patient care is the highest priority and we all have to ensure that we provide the best quality with the safest and most durable treatment option for our patients. When I think about treatment options for my patients, I always reflect on whether I would also recommend this treatment approach to one of my family members.

What kinds of research are you involved in at Penn and what does that mean for patients?

In addition to patient care and teaching, research is one of the main tenets in neurosurgery. One of the most satisfying things in medicine is when innovation and improvement in patient care is translated into our daily routine. I love when both pre-clinical and clinical research has an impact on patient care and outcomes. I will continue the research efforts I started at Baylor College of Medicine here at Penn in order to further understand moyamoya disease.

What types of emergency neurovascular conditions will you be treating? What type of elective neurovascular conditions will you be treating?

In vascular neurosurgery, many conditions I treat present as emergencies. This includes both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic strokes, which are blockages or narrowing of blood vessels, are most common and may require immediate endovascular treatment (mechanical thrombectomy), in addition to medical management or open surgical treatment. Transitory ischemic symptoms may be a sign of vessel narrowing or chronic vessel occlusion. These conditions may need treatment including endarterectomy, stenting or bypass depending on the location and severity of the disease. Non-traumatic hemorrhagic strokes may present as subarachnoid, intraparenchymal, intraventricular or subdural hemorrhage and include many different causes such as aneurysms, vascular malformations or fistulas.

Elective neurovascular conditions I treat include lesions, which are mainly found incidentally during work up or with non-acute symptoms and can include unruptured aneurysms, vascular malformations/fistulas, carotid stenosis and others. These patients are seen as outpatients first. Risks, benefits and alternative treatment options will be discussed in length before treatment.

What do you enjoy doing outside of practicing medicine?

In my free time I enjoy jogging and cycling and spending time with my wife and our three young children.

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