January 9, 2020
- Residency - University of Chicago Medical Center (2004-2009), General Surgery
- Fellowship - University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (2009-2011), Vascular Surgery
- Medical School - Yale University School of Medicine (2000-2004)
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Melissa Kirkwood, M.D., is an Associate Professor and Chief of the Department of Surgery’s Division of Vascular Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2011.
Dr. Kirkwood’s clinical interests include all areas of vascular surgery, as well as endovascular therapies and lower-extremity bypass aimed at treating peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and salvaging limbs.
An international expert in radiation safety, her research interests include radiation dose control, iliac artery aneurysms, simultaneous thoracic and abdominal endovascular aortic repair, and functional outcomes of limb revascularization for PVD.
After earning her medical degree at Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Kirkwood completed her general surgery residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a fellowship in vascular surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.
As an undergraduate, she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree from the University of Florida, where she completed a research fellowship in microbiology.
Dr. Kirkwood is certified by the American Board of Surgery in vascular and general surgery. She is also certified as a Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Active in medical education, Dr. Kirkwood won the Surgery Core Clerkship Teaching Award and serves as the Associate Student Clerkship Director for Vascular Surgery. She also serves on the medical school admissions, surgical education, mortality, and surgical quality committees. She previously served as the assistant program director of the vascular surgery fellowship.
A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Kirkwood is a member of professional organizations that include the Alpha Omega Honor Medical Society, the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery, and the Association of Women Surgeons.
Dr. Kirkwood has given over 20 international and national plenary talks and 52 regional presentations. She has written 20 first-author, peer-reviewed publications, as well as ten book chapters and nine invited commentaries in Vascular Specialist. She also serves as a reviewer for the Annals of Vascular Surgery.
She served as the section editor of the radiation safety module for the Vascular Education and Self-Assessment Program 4, as well as coauthored the Society of Vascular Surgery’s (SVS) radiation safety guidelines. She has also been selected by the Joint Commission to develop national radiation safety guidelines.
Dr. Kirkwood was included in D Magazine's Best Doctors list for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, was included in D Magazine's Best Doctors in Collin County list for 2021. In 2015, she received the S. Timothy String Award from the Southern Association of Vascular Surgery (SAVS) for best manuscript. In 2016 she received the SVS Women’s Leadership Award. Dr. Kirkwood has served on the SVS post-graduate and leadership committees, and was finance chair for the SAVS.
“Whether I repair an aneurysm, treat venous disease, prevent a stroke, or save a limb, I find caring for patients with vascular disorders extremely rewarding,” says Melissa L. Kirkwood, M.D., UT Southwestern Medical Center's Chief of Vascular Surgery.
Dr. Kirkwood practices all aspects of vascular surgery, performing both traditional, open surgeries and less invasive endovascular procedures to manage conditions that originate in the blood vessels. These include aneurysms, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
“Because these patients often have very complex medical problems, they frequently require a higher level of care that I enjoy providing,” she says.
In addition to performing open and endovascular abdominal and thoracic aortic surgeries, Dr. Kirkwood performs conventional carotid endarterectomy and carotid stenting for the treatment of carotid artery disease.
For patients with PAD, she offers lower-extremity open bypass procedures as well as minimally invasive techniques such as balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, and stenting. Her expertise frequently helps patients walk without pain, heal chronic wounds, and save their limbs.
As the leader of UT Southwestern’s full-service vascular surgery vein clinic, Dr. Kirkwood evaluates and treats patients with a wide range of venous diseases, including varicose veins, spider veins, May-Thurner syndrome, DVT, and DVT-related post-thrombotic syndrome.
“Vascular surgeries are technically challenging, and I enjoy staying current with all the new innovations, devices, and minimally invasive procedures that are available so that I can bring the absolute best health care to my patients,” she says.
“I am very invested in the health of my patients and the relationships I develop with them. I share in their joy when I can help them get relief from their symptoms. UT Southwestern enables me to provide that relief by offering all aspects of state-of-the-art vascular care.”
In addition to her work with patients, Dr. Kirkwood conducts innovative research that is revolutionizing the way the vascular surgery field views radiation exposure.
“All of the endovascular procedures we perform as vascular surgeons require radiation and I study ways to lower the radiation dose to patients and operators during complex endovascular procedures,” she says.
She presents her research regionally and nationally and has written book chapters and vascular surgery board questions on this topic.