Message from the Director, Dr. Constantine Sarantopoulos
The University of Miami Health System’s Pain Management Center is the leading multidisciplinary pain management facility in the Southeast.Florida. Our center is staffed by physicians from a variety of disciplines, nurses, psychologists, and other health care professionals trained and experienced in pain medicine.
Chronic pain affects more than 100 million American adults- -more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Pain also costs the nation more than $635 billion each year in medical treatment and lost productivity. So, there is no question that chronic pain is a major problem with a significant impact in patients’ and families’ lives, as well as in their physical, emotional and social function.
Our pain medicine group’s goal is to provide compassionate, prompt and effective care to patients with chronic pain, especially to patients who may have already been evaluated and treated elsewhere without success.
Our evaluation and treatment approaches utilize compassionate and comprehensive, interdisciplinary approaches that include partnering and contribution from specialists in pain medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, oncology, gynecology, pediatrics, and alternative medicine, amongst others. In addition, our pain medicine center incorporates the Wellness Center services and staff as part of its comprehensive best practices clinical model. In order to produce the best possible outcomes, we work together with patients and their families to explore options designed to maximize quality of life and overall function.
We believe that chronic pain can be best understood and treated in the context of an interacting network of biological, psychological, and social factors, than purely in biological terms. It’s not only the medical conditions and diseases that can cause chronic pain and disability. Biological, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social factors, all play a significant role in humans suffering from chronic pain. This is the reason why it is important to handle all components together in the context of chronic pain management. This notion reflects our philosophy, in our state of the art pain center, wherein in parallel with cutting-edge technology and procedural techniques we emphasize a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach focusing in treating all components of the pain experience in the individual patient.
This approach is something so far missing from the health care services in Southeast Florida. Most pain clinics focus either on a purely interventional approach, or on pharmacological management (mainly using narcotic opioid drugs) with significant shortcomings and limitations. Our multidisciplinary pain clinic is a center of clinical excellence treating each patient as an individual by providing individualized, patient-centered, holistic and comprehensive care. This approach is based in offering interdisciplinary care in the same, state-of-the-art facility. Our team approach is based in an interactive participation of interventional pain physicians, physiatrists, neurologists and mental health specialists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and several other allied health specialists. The center is equipped with cutting edge equipment, including interventional procedure suites and state-of-art technology, as well as special facilities for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Function within the premises of an academic institution, adherence to the principles of sound, and ethical evidence-based medicine, and the enthusiasm and commitment of the participating physicians and providers are the constituents of success.
These beliefs are shared by all faculty members of the Division of Pain Management, which Dr. Sarantopoulos leads. Drs. Gitlin, Patin, Levitt and Ranasinghe are a dynamic, vibrant team that aims into bringing the Division to a new level. They foresee the potential to evolve into a nationally and internationally recognized center of excellence for the management of patients suffering from chronic pain.
It is a very fortunate event that Dr. David Lubarsky, the Emanuel M. Papper Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology, shares the same philosophy, ambition, enthusiasm, motivation and energy. It cannot be any better combination than that! Dr. Lubarsky’s commitment to creating a center of academic excellence in pain management is reflected in his constant involvement in all aspects of planning, organizing, and function of the Division of Pain Management, including the recruitment of people who can make this dream real.
Constantine Sarantopoulos is an accomplished clinician-scientist. He arrived from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was a pain medicine clinician and basic research scientist, running a lab conducting NIH –funded research on the mechanisms of neuropathic pain and neuronal ion-channels.
Dr. Sarantopoulos is an experienced pain specialist recognized by several clinical awards, including “Best Doctors in America®” since 2009, as well as research awards. His main clinical focus is interventional pain medicine in the context of an interdisciplinary, bio-psycho-social approach. He is a strong believer and advocate of the values that an academic pain center offers: excellence in clinical care, excellence in education of a new generation of pain specialists, production of new knowledge and community service. Dr Sarantopoulos’ vision to establish the Pain medicine division into an internationally renown center for the management of patients suffering from chronic pain, is shared by Dr. Lubarsky and all other physicians in the division.
Dr. Sarantopoulos works alongside with a vibrant team of outstanding clinicians. Dr. Melvin Gitlin, former Chairman of Anesthesiology at the Tulane University is one of the pioneers of the subspecialty of pain management, and a researcher in the mechanisms of transition of acute to chronic pain. Dr. Gitlin currently provides care at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Gitlin lectures at the local, regional, national and international levels. He has been widely published and serves as a reviewer for several journals. He is a member of numerous societies and has been very active in the organized pain community for many years; he has served as chairman of numerous committees and task forces. Among other responsibilities, Dr. Gitlin serves as President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Chairman of the Council of Past Presidents of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Pain Medicine. He is a member of the Examination Council and Credentials Committee of the America Board of Pain Medicine. Dr. Gitlin is highly respected as a clinician, researcher, mentor, and leader.
Dr. Dennis Patin, Director of Pain Management at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, specializes in the interventional management of non-malignant and cancer pain, and is an expert in implantable devices, such as intrathecal infusion pumps and spinal cord stimulators. Dr. Patin is an outstanding clinician with excellent bedside, clinical and interventional skills. Dr. Patin has really built an amazing practice, recognized by hundreds of grateful patients. He has established a center of clinical excellence at the Sylvester comprehensive cancer center, which is internationally renown for its outcomes in pain management. He is also a well sought lectures at national and international conferences and events, and has contributed significantly in the training of several young doctors.
Dr. Chaturani Ranasinghe is an experienced, proficient interventionalist with outstanding clinical skills. Dr Ranasinghe has been recently appointed as the co-Director of the new multidisciplinary pain clinic at the CRB/Wellness center that aims at delivering to the population of Southern Florida, and even to patients from out of state or abroad, high quality care in Pain Management, based on a bio-psycho-social, interdisciplinary approach. Her bedside, clinical and procedural skills have bene recognized by hundreds of grateful patients, as well.
Dr. Levitt is an accomplished world-renown clinician-scientist, treating our nation’s veterans with chronic pain at the Miami VA Medical center and in the near future in other locations, as well. He is the Director of Translational Research and Academic Affairs at the Department of Anesthesiology, and a leader of a vibrant laboratory exploring genetic mechanisms that lead to pain. He has been recently awarded with a a five-year $2.5 million NIH grant to study genetic susceptibility to certain persistent pain syndromes. Using powerful multidisciplinary genomic approaches, Dr Levitt is studying the most perplexing problems in chronic, persistent pain by identifying polymorphic genes and biologic pathways associated with altered pain perception, and how they relate to susceptibility for persistent pain at the so-called acute to chronic pain transition. Specifically, by identifying specific DNA risk variants and their functional impact on the pathways leading to pain, Dr. Levitt will help improve interventions for persistent pain sufferers.
The missions of an academic pain center do not end in clinical care. Our pain medicine fellowship program has received a 5 year long accreditation by the ACGME to train the new generation of pain specialists in the art and science of pain medicine. In addition we have been very active in community service by offering education and outreach activities.