2011 Highlights

December 15, 2011


Clinical Growth

During 2011, the Department continued its growth trajectory. Clinical productivity, as measured by work RVUs, jumped 20% during FY2011 compared with FY 2010.

This clinical growth reflects a dramatic expansion of the scope of services provided by the Department. Presently, the Department offers subspecialty services for rhinology (Texas Sinus Institute), voice (Texas Voice Performance Institute), skull base (Texas Skull Base Physicians), pediatric ENT, facial plastic surgery, otology, and head and neck surgery, as well as a comprehensive audiology program.

Clinical integration with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital has provided a firm foundation for the Department, which offers tertiary and quaternary care at Memorial Hermann facilities. More importantly, collaboration with these hospital partners has permitted the Department to build a seamless experience for patients with both simple and complex diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat and related structures.


The Department is the home for an ACGME-accredited residency program in otolaryngology. This program provides comprehensive post-graduate education in the ABO-recognized specialty of otolaryngology.

In 2011, Esther Cheung-Phillips, MD, Yuri Gelfand, MD, and Stephanie Herrera, MD, completed their residency program training. All 3 graduates have joined private practices located in Texas.

In addition, the department sponsors fellowship training in rhinology and facial plastic surgery:

  • The rhinology fellowship, part of Texas Sinus Institute and Texas Skull Base Physicians, provides training to board-eligible (or board-certified) otolaryngologists with a subspecialty interest in rhinology. In 2011, Dr. Li-Xing Man completed his fellowship; he is now an assistant professor at the University of Rochester.
  • The facial plastic surgery fellowship, under the direction of Russell W.H. Kridel, MD (a volunteer faculty member), is a post-residency training program for board-eligible (or board-certified) otolaryngologists with a subspecialty interest in facial plastic surgery. In 2011, Samir Undavia, MD, graduated the fellowship; he is now in private practice in Austin, Texas.

Samer Fakhri, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)has been recognized with the medical school’s Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award for the sixth time. Also recognized in 2011 was otorhinolaryngologist Sancak Yuksel, MD (More info).

In the 2011 NRMP, all 6 UTHealth Medical School students who applied for otorhinolaryngology training positions successfully matched at their top choices.


  • Dr. Amber Luong continued to develop a comprehensive translational science program that examines the mechanisms of chronic rhinosinusitis. She has a special interest in allergic fungal rhinosinusitis, specific CRS subtype that seems to be more prevalent here in the greater Houston area (Read more information about the treatment).
  • Two residents in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School have been awarded competitive research grants to further their studies.
  • Dr. Trey Alava was awarded a resident research travel grant to The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2011 Fall Meeting in San Francisco where he presented his study “Rib cartilage autograft versus irradiated cartilage homograft: A rabbit model”
  • Dr. Amber Luong received a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in The Brown Foundation Institute Molecular Medicine within the Center of Immunology and Autoimmune Diseases. With this appointment, she acquired 375 square feet of newly renovated lab space and a separate closed tissue culture room.
  • Dr. Garima Agarwal gave an oral presentation at the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy 2011 Fall Meeting in San Francisco. She reported the results of her grant-funded study entitled “Nasal provocation testing unable to identify fungi-sensitive patients with either acoustic rhinometry or optical rhinometry.”
  • Dr. Joanne Shaw, post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Luong gave an oral presentation at the American Rhinologic Society 2011 Fall Meeting in San Francisco entitled “Increased Percentage of Mast Cells within Sinonasal Mucosa of Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyp Patients Independent of Atopy.”
  • Dr. Fernando Gomez-Rivera gave an oral presentation at the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery 2011 Annual Meeting entitled “Prospective Randomized Study Comparing Total Intravenous to Inhalational Anesthesia: Novel Approach of Blood Flow Quantification.”
  • Dr. Stephanie Herrera received 1st for the Houston Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Resident Research Award and 2nd for the Texas Association of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Resident Research Award for her research entitled “Assessment of Frontal Recess Fracture Patterns Using Triplanar CT Images.”
  • Dr. Yuri Gelfand received 2nd for the Houston Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Resident Research Award for his research entitled “A Comparative Study of the Distribution of Normal Saline Delivered by Large Particle Nasal Nebulizer vs. Large – Volume/Low – Pressure Squeeze Bottle after Endoscopic Sinus Surgery.”

Patient Success Stories

  • Outside the Box with Chronic Sinusitis
  • The Vargas Case: Excision of a Large Benign Goiter
  • The Reverend Williams Regains His Voice
  • Finding the Unknown Primary in Head & Neck Cancer
  • Nihal Uddin’s Journey to 360-Degree Hearing

Other Noteworthy Events

  • Recruitment of Michael Byrd, MD, for the new office at Memorial Hermann-Southeast Campus
  • Martin J. Citardi, MD, and Samer Fakhri MD, selected for 2011 Best Doctors in America
  • 2011 Advanced Rhinology Concepts
  • Launch of the Department’s On-line Patient Access Library
  • Launch of the Department’s UTHealth ORL Video Channel
  • Russell Kridel, MD, Reelected to AMA Council Position
  • Internationally Renowned Otolaryngologist Speaks at 2011 ORL Frontiers
  • UT Physicians Opens Facial Plastic Surgery Clinic in Southwest Houston
  • UTHealth Audiology Program Expands
  • Ron Karni, MD, Invited to Speak in Panama
  • Thyroid Nodules Webinar
  • Nose Unplugged 2011 Webinar
  • Your Voice 2011 Webinar


  • Houston Center Offers Some Relief for People Suffering From Tinnitus
  • Tinnitus: When Silence Becomes Deafening
  • Throat Cancer on the Rise, HPV may be to Blame
  • One Vaccine Could Protect Your Kids Against Cancer on the Rise
  • Sleep Apnea victim finds cure at Houston hospital