Dr. Ashutosh Kacker, a well-known surgeon who focuses on improving outcomes for patients with benign and malignant tumors located at the base of the brain above the nasal passages, called the skull base, has been named chief of endoscopic skull base surgery within the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, effective November 15, 2021.
Endoscopic skull base surgery is a less invasive approach for removing skull base tumors than traditional brain surgery. Surgeons access tumors through the nasal passages, avoiding the need to cut through the skull and nerves. As a result, patients often recover faster and spend less time in the hospital.
The appointment recognizes Dr. Kacker’s expertise and significant contributions to patient care, research and training other surgeons over the past 20 years since he first joined Weill Cornell Medicine’s faculty in 2001. He is frequently invited to speak at national and international meetings.
“Ash is an exceptional surgeon, researcher and educator who has contributed greatly to the expanding field of endoscopic skull base surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. He is often requested for complex cases and has strengthened our collaborations with the Department of Neurological Surgery,” said Dr. Michael G. Stewart, chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. “I’m excited to continue working with Dr. Kacker. Endoscopic skull base surgery here has grown from one surgeon in the late 1990s to one of the largest programs in the country with our team of five subspecialists now caring for more than 200 patients annually.”
“I am honored to receive this new title and recognition in this growing field, which is improving patients’ outcomes and quality of life with less invasive surgeries,” said Dr. Kacker. “I am also thankful to Dr. Vijay Anand. He was a pioneer in expanding the field from routine nasal surgeries to novel endoscopic approaches into the skull base when I was a fellow in Advanced Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery and a big inspiration for my decision to pursue subspecialty training in endoscopic skull base surgery.”
Dr. Kacker is a subspecialist surgeon who treats benign and malignant tumors of the sinus and skull base, including the sella, the bony hollow in the bottom of the brain that holds the pituitary gland, and tumors that extend into the cerebrospinal-fluid-filled space above the sella known as the suprasellar region. Common malignant skull base tumors include pituitary cancers, meningiomas, nasopharyngeal carcinomas, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and squamous cell carcinomas.
Dr. Kacker conducts basic research into nasal disease and clinical outcomes research into skull base surgeries. Most recently, he co-developed a negative pressure face mask for patients to wear during endoscopic skull base surgery that minimizes the aerosolization of particles. The innovation allows surgeons to operate through the mask, which may help reduce the spread of infection to surgical staff and other patients during infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 or flu.
Dr. Kacker has co-authored more than 115 papers published in leading, peer-reviewed journals, including Operative Surgery, Surgery, Spine, The Laryngoscope, Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology and the World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology. He has received two teaching awards, the Maxwell Abramson Memorial Teaching and Service Award in 2010 and the Malcolm Schvey Resident Teaching Award in 2003, as chosen by otolaryngology residents at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He also participated in a cleft lip and palate surgery mission to Honduras in 2000, funded by a travel award from the Honduran Medical Foundation.
Dr. Kacker received his medical degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 1989 and a reciprocal medical degree from The University of the State of New York in 2003. Following a residency in internal medicine at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Jersey, he pursued a fellowship, internship and then a residency in surgery position at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. After starting his residency training at the Manhattan Eye Ear and Throat Hospital, he finished his training in 2000 at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and Columbia training program, and he then completed a fellowship in Advanced Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery. He has been an attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center since 2001. Dr. Kacker has quickly advanced through the academic ranks at Weill Cornell, and he has been a professor of clinical otolaryngology since 2014.