ICC’s Inventors to Watch: Ihab Haddadin, MD

ICC’s Inventors to Watch: Ihab Haddadin, MD

Associate Staff, Diagnostic Radiology
Idea Submissions to ICC: 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Tell us about your background, education, affinity for medicine, etc.

IH: I grew up in the Middle East and immigrated to the United States (Southern California) in 1991. In college, while trying to figure out what I was interested in, I ran across an article that dealt with xenotransplantation – the process of grafting or transplanting organs or tissues between members of different species – and that really got me excited about medicine. As it turned out, the folks who did the first xenotransplant were actually just down the street from me in Southern California, so I went and volunteered in their labs.

For my medical education, I started out in New Jersey and then out to Minnesota, going down the surgical route. During my training I was exposed to interventional radiology, a fairly small subspecialty in the medical world. I saw a phenomenal example of how interventional radiologists are able to perform incredibly complex procedures utilizing minimally invasive techniques.  Often patients don’t require general anesthesia and most of the time walk out of the hospital the same day – I thought this was the wave of the future. So I switched to interventional radiology, and the field has not let me down.

What is your current position at Cleveland Clinic?

IH: I am a staff Interventional Radiologist in the Imaging Institute. In this role, I perform image-guided procedures to treat various disease processes.  My clinical practice involves the treatment of acute and chronic pulmonary embolisms (PEs).  I am also involved with our multidisciplinary liver oncology program.  Our role in IR utilizes minimally invasive techniques to deliver therapy for cancer patients whose cancer predominantly involves the liver. Another area of clinical interest is prostate artery embolization for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy as an alternative, or an adjunct therapy for patients with very large prostates who might otherwise require a more complex surgical intervention because of the prostate size.

What is your favorite career moment to date?

IH: If I had to pick one career moment that stood out, it would be the first acute pulmonary embolism intervention that I performed as a staff. It was fairly early on in my career and the patient was a gentleman who was recovering in the neuro ICU after a stroke. With the expertise of our Neuro colleagues, he managed to make an incredible recovery, but then he suffered a setback with a pulmonary embolism leading to a cardiac arrest.

It was a difficult clinical scenario. What we’d consider to be the standard of care was not something that we could safely offer this gentleman who had just suffered a stroke. We went through a bunch of different algorithms and then decided to bring him down to Interventional Radiology for a catheter based therapy. That was the first PE that I treated here at the clinic. He did remarkably well and was ultimately discharged from the hospital. A few weeks later, I got a video call from one of my colleagues in vascular medicine during a follow up visit with the patient in his outpatient clinic. The patient on video said to me, “Thank you very much. I really appreciate you saving my life.” It’s not often that you have moments like that. It stuck with me, and really drives the point home that the work we do here at clinic really does save lives.

Tell us about you as a person.

IH: Outside of work, I consider myself a husband and a father. That’s really my other full-time job. I’ve learned it’s hard to separate those two, but it’s important to achieve a balance. I have four children spanning from just under 2 years to 12 years old – and they keep me busy. I’m at a point where I’m in the prime of my career, and my kids are at an amazing and fun age where I’m seeing them develop personalities. The bottom line is, I enjoy it when I come to work, and I enjoy it when I go home.

Do you see any of your innovative spirit in your children?

IH: Oh yeah. My oldest son is a little skittish when it comes to body fluids, but he’s incredibly interested in chemistry. So we’re always having conversations like, “What if I invent this medication to do this?” He will probably be doing to a more biomedical route rather than a more direct patient care medical route. My second youngest son is developing more of an engineering interest. We build a lot of 3D models together.  We dissected a specially preserved fetal pig in the backyard, much to my wife’s chagrin though the kids enjoyed it.  The engineering is now blossoming to a competitive Rubik’s cube solving. We just got him a four-by-four Rubik’s cube now that he’s perfected the three-by-three cube – he got it down to about a minute and a half. My daughter is very artistic, loves singing, playing musical instruments, drawing, so we’re encouraging that. The fourth child is a baby – we’re still trying to figure him out. He’s in the “I want to destroy things” phase.
It really is amazing what a young mind can do once given a nurturing opportunity. I’m not trying to restrict them in any way, shape, or form – they can pursue whatever they want to pursue.

What does being innovative mean to you?

IH: Innovation starts with identifying a need of some sort. There’s always going to be a need to do something – either do something from scratch or do something better. Once you find that need, you work on identifying the solution to that problem. However, the world and technology have gotten complex to the point where one person can’t possibly solve problems alone. I mean, Steve Jobs invented this phenomenal smartphone, but he didn’t do it by himself. There are a lot of people that helped him put that thing together. So once you identify a solution to a problem, you do need to leverage the expertise that’s around you.

In the medical field, this is important. I am not an engineer or a material design expert. We’re lucky that here at Cleveland Clinic we’re able to reach out to our folks in Biomedical Engineering, leverage their expertise, and say, “Hey, this is the solution we came up with.” Sometimes they’ll even say, “That’s a great solution, but we have an even better one for you.” We know the problem, they know the solution – it’s a heck of a team.

Once you find the appropriate partners for an innovation, you need to figure out how to scale it. You need to be able to optimize it, so that it’s done in an efficient manner and the costs can be controlled. Again, we have a lot of resources at our disposal here at Cleveland Clinic to do so. These are the pieces that need to come together for innovative to have its best chance at success in the medical field.

Give us your take on Cleveland Clinic’s new mission statement: Caring for life, researching for health, and educating those who serve.  

IH: Those pieces are together in one sentence separated by commas as they’re all interconnected. Ultimately, our goal here is to care for patients. Part of caring for patients is coming in with whatever expertise you have to do what you do, but you’re going to inevitably run into challenges.  I think when a Cleveland Clinic caregivers run into these problems, they invariably start working on some solution. It may be a basic science solution, clinical solution, material design solution, etc. Whatever the solution is, its development is fostered here at Cleveland Clinic.

This is a wonderful teaching facility that emphasizes that the line can’t just stop with you. There’s the next generation of physicians who are joining us, and we’re training these folks so that whatever knowledge we’ve developed gets passed on. That’s very well integrated here, as displayed by the mission statement and day-to-day activities.
Dr. Haddadin’s passion for interventional radiology and intent to develop the next generation of thinkers has earned him Innovation at Cleveland Clinic’s ‘Inventor to Watch’ status. Currently, Dr. Haddadin and his co-inventor are working with ICC for the development of a solution for the obstruction of patient bile ducts. Balancing optimal drainage with maximum patient comfort, the innovation in progress stands to be a game-changer in the world of biliary tubes. To learn more about Dr. Haddadin, his projects, and opportunities for collaboration, please contact innovations@ccf.org.

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