Seasons Magazines

Seasons Magazines

Advancing in Neurosurgery, Javed Eliyas, M.D., is Thriving in His Field

Hartford, CT 5/17/2024 - Dr. Javed Eliyas, neurosurgeon at St. Francis Hospital.Photo by Stan Godlewski

By Kim Lucey Millen  /  Photography by STAN GODLEWSKI


Looking back, Javed Eliyas, M.D., marvels that a decision made early in his medical career to pursue neurosurgery has suited him so well. “I felt the brain was the most important part of the body,” said Dr. Eliyas. “Everyone’s brain works differently, and it defines who you are. I was drawn to the field because of that.” Since then, he’s learned neurosurgery can be challenging, tough to train and work in, but is also extremely delicate and nuanced. “I’m persistent, deal with stress well and work hard,” said Dr. Eliyas. “It turns out these personal traits help in my field, which keeps me wanting to continue to get better and make a difference for my patients and the Trinity Health Of New England community.”


Making His Way to the Nutmeg State

Dr. Eliyas grew up in India where he attended medical school and completed a rotatory internship before graduating. He feels that interning in all the major medical subspecialities gave him a holistic view of one’s health and wellbeing; and not merely that of a specialist focused on one organ in the body. He aspired to be a neurosurgeon and to obtain the highest quality of neurosurgical training; a dream that led him the United States. “I’m glad I made the leap to the U.S. and found the opportunities to pursue the field that I love,” said Dr. Eliyas.

He completed his residency training in neurological surgery at the University of Chicago, followed by fellowship training in endovascular neurosurgery at the University of Calgary. Most recently, he was employed as an assistant professor of neurosurgery and radiology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. While he enjoyed the Southwest, he missed the changing of seasons, even the cold and snow. Visiting Saint Francis Hospital, he was captivated by the organization’s deep roots in the community and its unwavering commitment to compassionate care and healing.

“I was impressed by the values and mission of the hospital, its longevity, and how long it’s been part of the fabric of the community,” stated Dr. Eliyas. “It’s not very corporate and has lots of heart, with care and compassion more important than the bottom line.” Now he has the opportunity to help build the neurosurgery program at Trinity Health Of New England. And he’s doing it surrounded by family: his wife, son and daughter, along with his parents and in-laws are in Connecticut supporting him every step of the way. “This area really is such a gem between New York and Boston,” said Dr. Eliyas. “We love that it’s so close to the big cities but has that small town feel.”


An Evolving Field

Like so many medical fields, neurosurgery is changing rapidly with technology, especially in the last 10 to 20 years, explained Dr. Eliyas. For instance, he specializes in the management of vascular disorders that affect the brain and the spine. These problems used to be treated with open surgery; Dr. Eliyas said they can now be managed with minimally invasive methods, such as radiosurgery or endovascular therapies. Radiosurgery uses specialized targeted radiology to treat complex problems deep in the brain. It can be useful for managing meningiomas and tumors that, in the past, had to be surgically managed. Endovascular techniques are minimally invasive procedures that use a catheter to thread from the groin or wrist through the arteries to help treat a stroke or aneurysm. Dr. Eliyas called it a huge change, adding, “With new technology at our disposal, neurosurgery has become much more specialized and targeted. Because of that, it’s much safer. Outcomes are more expected.” That doesn’t mean it’s any less scary for patients facing a diagnosis involving the brain; he’s prepared to handle that aspect, too. “As a doctor, I try my best to relate to my patients and make them feel comfortable,” Dr. Eliyas reflected. “They need to feel like they can trust me, and I need to give them the hope and confidence they need based on what I’m able to provide.”


Working with Cutting-Edge Technology

For many patients facing complex issues that require neurosurgery, there may not be just one answer to get them on the path to recovery. Sometimes patients may be a candidate for an endovascular therapy, but also need an open surgery. Now, thanks to a state-of-the-art hybrid operating room at Saint Francis Hospital, Dr. Eliyas and his colleagues can do both procedures in one space, under one anesthesia, without moving the patient. The space was created using two normal-sized operating rooms, and is equipped with a Siemens biplane machine, providing an advanced suite in which to perform complex, multi-disciplinary surgeries. “The room itself makes it easier for the patient,” Dr. Eliyas pointed out. Instead of going through scheduling and recovery twice, they can get their needs addressed at once. The addition of technology helps doctors, allowing them to treat even the most complex patients. “Together, the room and the biplane machine give us a full treatment option to address diseases and ailments with hybrid procedures, allowing us to serve each patient to the very best of our abilities,” said Dr. Eliyas.


What’s Still to Come

Dr. Eliyas stated there’s lots of research happening in the neurosurgery field right now aiming to refine treatments for various disorders. One emphasis is on stroke, with researchers looking into endovascular treatments inclusive of patients of all kinds. Another is idiopathic intracranial hypertension, which happens when high pressure around the brain causes symptoms such as vision changes and headaches. Dr. Eliyas explained many times treatments have been rough and painful for patients in the past, but a new kind of stenting has been a game changer, with patients oftentimes seeing no more problems after the stent is placed.

“The constant discovery of more impactful treatments with less risk for the patient is the kind of thing that keeps this field so interesting,” said Dr. Eliyas. He added that providing such life-changing experiences for patients can be an amazing feeling.

“When you see a patient dealing with a stroke, and they cannot move an arm or a leg or even talk, and then you remove the clot in their brain and watch them go back to normal function within an hour or less, it’s a really awesome feeling,” commented Dr. Eliyas. “To see that change from being well, to struggling with disease, to well again, is an experience to cherish.”

It is those experiences that remind Dr. Eliyas of the luck he had with the choice to follow the path to neurosurgery so many years ago. A field that challenges him every day yet provides the lens in which to see new things, explore rapidly evolving technology and stay young at heart.


Kimberly Millen is a freelance journalist with more than two decades of experience in both print and broadcast media. She lives in New England with her husband and son, exploring all that each of the four seasons has to offer.


Stan Godlewski is an editorial, corporate and healthcare photographer based in Connecticut and working primarily between Boston and New York City.