Meet Dr. Venkatesh Aiyagari
Neurocritical Care Specialist in Dallas

As a neurocritical care specialist, Venkatesh Aiyagari, M.D., brings together expertise in neurology and critical care medicine – a combination that allows him to provide the best care for people with life-threatening conditions of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

“In most intensive care units, the intensivists who care for patients generally don’t have a neurology background, so they don’t have a complete understanding of these diseases,” Dr. Aiyagari says.

Dr. Aiyagari leads UT Southwestern Medical Center’s highly specialized Division of Neurocritical Care, which includes seven physicians all trained in both neurology and critical care. They treat conditions ranging from severe stroke, uncontrolled seizures, and ruptured cerebral aneurysms to acute brain and spinal cord injuries and diseases such as encephalitis <link to Q&A>, myasthenia gravis, and meningitis.

“We all understand neurological and neurosurgical diseases very well,” he says. “And because we’re also trained in critical care, the care we provide is specifically tailored for ICU patients with disorders involving the brain.”

The Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at UT Southwestern’s Zale Lipshy University Hospital is one of the largest facilities of its kind in Texas.

The unit offers a range of state-of-the-art services, including 24-hour video EEG monitoring, end-tidal CO2 monitoring, noninvasive cardiac monitoring, intracranial pressure monitoring, bronchoscopy, and ultrasonography.

“We care for many patients who have been referred by nearby ICU doctors and other physicians who need advanced expertise in neurocritical care that they aren’t equipped to provide,” Dr. Aiyagari says.

Patients receive comprehensive care thanks to the multidisciplinary approach the team employs. Specialists include nurses trained in Neurocritical care, respiratory therapists, a pharmacist, and a dietician, as well as neurosurgeons, occupational and physical therapists, and speech pathologists.

Combining their expertise and experience, Dr. Aiyagari and his colleagues are able to improve the conditions of a number of the critically ill patients they care for.

“Many of our patients who were initially quite sick do get better, and some come back and visit us, walking and talking,” he says. “It’s important to remember that just because someone is in the Neuro ICU it doesn’t mean that he or she can’t improve significantly.”