2020 Top Doctor: Karen Garby, M.D.

Editorial StaffMarch 19, 2020
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Venous Disease

Med School/Year Graduated: Medical College of Georgia, 1992

Years in Practice: 23

Venous disease is debuting this year as a Top Docs category. In your own words, what exactly is it?

Venous disease is a genetic failure of the valves in the lower extremity superficial venous system. The valve failure occurs in the great and small saphenous veins, allowing blood flow to move in an abnormal direction away from the heart.

So it’s more than just treating varicose veins?

Yes! Although treatment can be for cosmetic reasons, more often in my practice it’s treating to heal or prevent swelling and its sequelae, [which is the] thickening and discoloring [of] the calf and ankle, the clotting of the superficial and deep veins, and ulcers.

How does your background as a vascular and interventional radiology specialist come into play?

This disease was often ignored, but when it was treated, the treatment was inpatient surgery with general anesthesia. Now treatment is in the office with ultrasound guidance, endovascular tubes called catheters and injections, which was exactly my training in my residency and fellowship.

Can you explain how your work with fibroid tumors can stave off the need for a hysterectomy?

Fibroid tumors are benign, but as with any tumor in the body, interventional radiologists starve [them] by doing embolization and blocking the arteries to the tumor. The goal is to shrink the fibroids and uterus, stop pelvic pain and irregular heavy bleeding without hysterectomy.

You practice in Gilbert, Tempe and Flagstaff. How often are you in each location? How do you deal with the commute?

I’m typically at the procedural center in Gilbert every Monday for outpatient procedures [which require] a little sedation and X-ray. Tuesday through Friday, I see patients and do vein procedures in Tempe, and one to two times a month I’m in Flagstaff. I don’t mind the commute because at each office there are different patients and all the offices have exceptional staff to help me.

Name the best depiction of your field in TV or film that you’ve ever seen.

I’ve never seen any fictional TV or film depiction of an interventional radiologist! There’s a documentary called Without a Scalpel that offers a peek inside the world of interventional radiology.

Do you have any hobbies or interests you pursue in your spare time?

Being a physician doesn’t always allow for a lot of spare time, but most often, my spare time is spent with family. We enjoy outdoor adventure activities, skiing, boating, and I personally enjoy cooking and have been practicing Pilates for decades.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

A health and wellness coach. Luckily, I get to incorporate some of this into my current practice.


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