Board certified in both general surgery and thoracic surgery, Puja G. Khaitan, MD, FACS, is the Director of Esophageal Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Associate Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. The majority of Dr. Khaitan’s practice involves non-cardiac chest surgeries with a focus on lung cancer, mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, chest wall tumors, and mediastinal masses. She also sees patients for benign pathologies such as airway strictures, pulmonary nodules, chest wall defects, esophageal leiomyomas, esophageal diverticulum, hiatal hernias, and achalasia.
As a highly-experienced, minimally invasive thoracic surgeon, Dr. Khaitan performs thoracoscopic, laparoscopic, and robotic surgeries. When needed, she also performs open surgical procedures such as extra pleural pneumonectomies with pericardial and diaphragmatic resection and reconstruction, pleurectomy, and supercharged jejunal interpositions.
Dr. Khaitan’s research interests include methodologies for diagnosing thoracic pathologies early, preventive medicine, and understanding why different patients respond differently to different treatment regimens. More specifically, her research focus is on esophageal cancer and studying its response to chemo-radiation.
Dr. Khaitan received her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern. She then pursued a general surgery residency at Emory University Hospital, with a simultaneous two-year NIH-T32 research fellowship at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Cancer Biology. Subsequently, she completed her cardiothoracic training at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Prior to joining MedStar Washington in 2017, she was an Assistant Professor at Houston Methodist Hospital for 4 years.
Dr. Khaitan is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters; gives lectures both nationally and internationally; and reviews various journals, such as the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Diseases of the Esophagus, and the Journal of Thoracic Disease. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Top Surgeon in Houston, TX by the International Association of HealthCare Professionals (IAHCP) in 2014, the Houston Methodist Faculty Award of Excellence in 2016, and the Fondren-Brown Cardiothoracic OR Nursing Staff Award in 2016. She is a member of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), the European Society of Thoracic Surgery (ESTS), the American Association for Academic Surgery (AAS), the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association (STSA), the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the General Thoracic Surgery Club (GTSC), and the American College of Surgeons (ACS).
Dr. Khaitan’s vision includes building the leading thoracic surgery institute in the Washington, DC area at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, dedicated to the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases of the chest.
Philosophy of Care
“Healthcare has gone through significant advancements over the last two decades. It has revolutionized from generalized medicine to what is now known as personalized or precision medicine. This new model of medicine entails formulation of treatment plans based on individual needs, where each patient is carefully studied and analyzed, and the treatment plan is tailored to his/her overall clinical picture, genetic makeup, patient and tumor anatomy, and tumor response. Each patient is different and therefore, what’s best for one patient may not be best for another. As a physician, I’m vigilant about this every single time I meet with my patients.
“The foundation of my practice is compassion. I take the time to listen to my patients in order to fully understand their symptoms and any pain they may be experiencing. Patient education is an important aspect of any treatment plan. I explain the complexity of the diagnosis as well as the relevant treatment options to the patient and his/her family members. As a healthcare provider, it is my responsibility that my patient and his/ her family understand the diagnosis and treatment process.
“Finally, I am always available to referring physicians. I strongly believe that collaboration and good communication between all healthcare providers involved in the patient’s care is essential to providing high-quality care.”