Clinical Associate Professor Payal Saxena is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, subspecialised in Interventional Endoscopy. She completed her specialist Gastroenterology training in Sydney then travelled to the USA where she undertook a two-year Interventional Endoscopy and Research fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
A/Prof Saxena performs a range of procedures including Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) and Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). She has received expert training in specialist areas including interventional EUS, advanced resection techniques for early gastrointestinal cancer including endoscopic submucosal dissection and removal of subepithelial tumors, endoscopic treatment of reflux disease, gastroparesis and obesity. She also performs Per-Oral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM), a new endoscopic treatment of achalasia and spastic oesophageal disorders.
A/Prof Saxena has a special interest in pancreatic disease including pancreatic cancer screening, pancreatic cysts, acute/chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic insufficiency. She contributes to the International Cancer of the Pancreas Screening Consortium and International Registry.
A/Prof Saxena has numerous published works and has been invited to present at a variety of national and international conferences. She is an editorial reviewer for field publications such as Endoscopy,Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Digestive Diseases and Sciences.
A/Prof Saxena is involved in postgraduate teaching and passionate about ongoing research. She has many professional memberships including the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, American Gastroenterology Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, Natural Orifice Surgery Consortium for Assessment and Research (NOSCAR) and Australasian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association.
Q&A with Dr Payal Saxena
Each month we spend five minutes with one of our medical team, and this month we’re very pleased to meet Dr Payal Saxena, Gastroenterologist and Interventional Endoscopist.
What does your role as a gastroenterologist, hepatologist and interventional endoscopist involve?
I look after all gastrointestinal issues including cancer (as well as non-cancer) problems with the oesophagus, stomach, colon, pancreas, gall bladder and bile ducts disorders.
How long have you been working at Lifehouse? What’s it been like so far?
I started doing procedures here in September after the launch of day surgery. While I’m a VMO (visiting medical officer) I work closely with the Lifehouse clinical and support staff. Everyone is great, both on a professional, collegial level and also in terms of the care they deliver to patients. My patients have been very complimentary in the feedback they’ve given me. They really appreciate that someone calls them the day after their procedure to check they’re doing okay.
In August last year I returned from a two-year interventional endoscopy fellowship at Johns Hopkins which is one of the best hospitals in the world in terms of practice, model of care and facilities. To come out of that world-class environment and into this one was amazing – it’s the same standard of technology and equipment.
I was absolutely blown away by the quality; there’s nothing that I cannot do here in terms of procedures. We have the same monitors and technology as I was using at Johns Hopkins. And on top of that everyone is very forward thinking, collaborative and supportive, it’s a fantastic environment.
What kinds of procedures do you do here?
I’m an interventional endoscopist, which is still a somewhat emerging discipline, especially in Australia. Endoscopy is usually a diagnostic procedure, but interventional endoscopy is therapeutic – I can provide certain treatments as well as conduct diagnostic explorations in the one procedure.
Through some new techniques I learnt, I can remove gastrointestinal stromal tumours, early gastric cancers and treat pancreatic cysts without the need for surgery. There’s a patient preference towards these types of procedures as there’s no incisions or scars, improved recovery time and less post-operative pain.
What are you currently working on research-wise?
I’m still an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, so I’m involved in a lot of research and publish regularly. I’m currently working on research into the effectiveness of pancreatic cysts (which are precursors to pancreatic cancer) and the management of these problems. This is a new area of research in our Australian context.
I also contribute to the International Cancer of the Pancreas Screening (CAPS) program, collaborating with clinicians all over the world to develop the worldwide registry of patients who’ve had surgery as a result of the screening program.