The UHealth/Miller Vascular Surgery team, from left: (front row) Dr. Handel Robinson, Dr. Omaida C. Velazquez, Claudia Lacayo, ARNP, Dr. Jorge Rey; (second row) Dr. Zhao-Jun Liu, Dr. Roberto I. Vazquez-Padron, Dr. John Karwowski; (third row) Dr. Marwan Tabbara, Dr. Lee J. Goldstein, Dr. Arash Bornak, Dr. Alberto J. Lopez, and Dr. Keith Jones.
Under the leadership of Omaida C. Velazquez, M.D., the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery is coming of age at UHealth – the University of Miami Health System. From a diverse faculty trained in the latest minimally invasive technologies, to innovative vascular treatments, the division’s transformation is now fulfilling its mission of advancing vascular health for our community, boosting research efforts and educating the next generation of physicians.
The faculty of nine dually board-certified general and vascular and endovascular surgeons and two research faculty members is the largest in South Florida and the only team to have an ACGME-certified Vascular & Endovascular training program. 
The intricacies of vascular surgery, open reconstruction of the arteries and veins, and endovascular surgery, a minimally invasive catheter-based reconstruction, requires surgeons who possess the advanced knowledge and skill to provide comprehensive care for some of the most complex cases, including thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms, aortic dissections, peripheral and visceral artery aneurysms and cerebrovascular disease, the third leading cause of death in the nation.
“Since our arteries and veins are connected from head to toe, repair can be extensive and multi-level,” said Velazquez, professor of surgery and division chief at the UM Miller School of Medicine, and holder of the David Kimmelman Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery.
Vascular-related diseases may be less well known than those of the heart or brain, but proper function of the blood-carrying tubes is just as essential, affecting millions of people annually. In the case of carotid artery disease, fatty, waxy deposits called plaques slowly clog your carotid arteries in the neck area, shedding dangerous debris that block blood flow to the brain and ultimately cause a stroke.
One way to repair a clogged carotid artery is for a vascular surgeon to make an incision in the neck and surgically remove the plaque. However, the endovascular approach, using special catheters, stents and grafts, can accomplish the same goal. Because it’s minimally-invasive, it can help prevent future rupture, minimize pain, decrease major complications, and speed recovery time.
“The surgical approach used depends not only on the anatomy of the patient, but on the level of physician training and the availability of technology at any given facility,” said Velazquez.
In addition to the vascular and endovascular approaches, Velazquez and her team of board certified vascular surgeons – Arash Bornak, M.D., Lee Goldstein, M.D., Keith Jones, M.D., John Karwowski, M.D., Alberto Lopez, M.D., Jorge Rey, M.D., Handel Robinson, M.D., and Marwan Tabbara, M.D., also offer patients regenerative medicine technology.