New Director Leading UH Center for Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders
February 25, 2019
He brings expertise in both minimally invasive and open surgical procedures
UH Clinical Update - February 2019
As a laryngologist and head and neck surgeon, N. Scott Howard, MD, MBA, has operated in many different venues, from the American military to the world of the fine arts. He’s reconstructed the airways of soldiers who’ve suffered blast trauma in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has also restored treasured notes to opera singers’ vocal range.
Following a 23-year career in the U.S. Army, Dr. Howard recently joined University Hospitals as Director of the UH Center for Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders. He’s off to a quick start.
“We are in the process of acquiring some of the tools to modernize our capabilities,” he says. “That includes a new jet ventilator system, laser micromanipulator, and integrated video endoscopy system to perform more complex airway cases. Each tool will give us increased capability and safety.”
Dr. Howard is experienced in transoral laser surgery and transoral robotic surgery to treat benign and malignant tumors of the larynx and complex cases of obstructive sleep apnea. He is the recipient of a $250,000 Department of Defense grant he transferred to Case Western Reserve University to explore novel therapies for tracheal stenosis and laryngeal injury. He enjoys taking care of the full breadth of laryngology complaints – voice and swallowing disorders, neurologic disorders such as spasmodic dysphonia, and chronic cough – but says his favorite surgical procedure is tracheal reconstruction.
“It’s one of my favorite procedures because patients are so happy afterward,” he says. “Many of these patients have come to me with permanent tracheostomies – they don’t think they can ever remove it. Giving the patient an opportunity to remove a trach is phenomenal. I typically start with minimally invasive techniques first – that includes balloon dilation, laser treatment with topical and injectable medications to reduce subsequent scarring. In many cases, we’re able to stabilize the scar and really improve the patient’s outcome. But sometimes you can’t do that endoscopically. The open techniques are then really helpful for those patients.”
Dr. Howard received his undergraduate degree from the United State Military Academy at West Point. He earned his medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine and completed residency training in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
“While I was at Walter Reed, I realized we were not able to offer some advanced airway reconstructive techniques to our injured soldiers,” he says. “I petitioned the Army to release me for two years and subsequently completed a laryngology fellowship at UCLA.”
While there he also conducted research in laryngeal transplantation and transoral robotic surgery.
In treating his patients at UH, Dr. Howard says he’s able to offer many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the office, while the patient is awake and even watching the procedure on a video monitor.
“I typically treat patients in a combined approach where I have the speech and language pathologist with me,” he says. “We perform high definition flexible fiber optic examinations, stroboscopy, bronchoscopy, transnasal esophagoscopy, vocal cord injections, EMG of the larynx – all with the patient awake and watching the procedure on a big-screen TV. We can immediately show the patient what their problem is and quickly transition to treatment, in the same session when possible. Most patients really enjoy the opportunity to treat it right then and there.”
For more information about Dr. Howard or to refer a patient, please call 216-844-5055.