During the recent Rhinofest 2019 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedicine, otolaryngology surgeons and residents, facial plastic surgeons and other health workers had experience with cutting-edge technology and techniques.
“We’re teaching people surgery — sinus surgery and facial plastic surgery. It’s a cadaver dissection course. We showed people live surgery and walked them through it, and then they got to try it themselves,” tells Jens U. Ponikau, clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology, who hosted the event.
The procedure of surgical training was highly detailed.
“We conducted two days of sinus surgery with an endoscope to look inside the nose and operate through the nostril without any outside cuts,” Ponikau says. “We taught them how to do surgery of the brain through the nose. We taught them how to fix leaks of the brain, where you can lose brain fluid. We took our residents and participants and walked them through all aspects of these procedures.”
Staff surgeons from the University of Graz, Austria, were also involved in addition to the faculty of the Jacobs School.
“Graz is the epicenter of endoscopic sinus surgery. They come to help teach our courses, and I go over to their meetings and help teach their courses as well,” Ponikau says. “We always have a core group doing this together with Graz, but then we also invite others from around the nation and the world who are experts in their field.”
It was started at the Mayo Clinic by Eugene Kern. Ponikau assisted during the event until he took over the event in 2000. David A. Sherris was also at Mayo Clinic at the time, professor and president of otolaryngology.
The trio and the event migrated to UB a few years later.
“Dr. Sherris, Dr. Kern and I all left Mayo at the same time to come here and revitalize the ear, nose and throat program,” Ponikau tells. “We did Rhinofest for many years in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic. Now it’s centered on the Jacobs School. We focus now on marketing the Jacobs School and the University at Buffalo.”
Over and above surgery and talks, a visit to Niagara Falls and dinner at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House complex was also a mixture of internationally recognized events.