When Associate Professor Dr. Kyung Kim joined the Department’s Division of Vascular Interventional Radiology (VIR) in 2009, he brought with him liver cancer interventional expertise that expanded what this division offered in clinical services. Soon after his arrival, Dr. Kim shifted to treating vascular malformation patient cases in an area that former VIR Professor Dr. Joe Stavas had overseen, most of them in pediatric interventional care.

Dr. Kim’s addition to the VIR team was timely.  His division had an increasing presence at UNC Health Care System (UNC HCS)’s Heart and Vascular Center. A decade later, Kim was treating a large volume of challenging vascular malformation cases tied to complex disorders such as Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, Parkes Weber syndrome and CLOVES syndrome. He wanted to overcome limits to improving quality of vascular malformations care at UNC, especially in pediatric cases.

He stated: “In discussing with [Division Chief Dr. Charles Burke], we concluded I should pursue intensive vascular malformation training at Boston Children’s Hospital [BCH]. UNC has many pediatric vascular malformation cases that I oversee, and Dr. Burke and I determined [in late 2017] that I could acquire an ideal skill set through pursuing training in this specific area of interventional radiology at [BCH].”

From July 2018 to June 2019, Dr. Kim’s intensive training at this top-tier national children’s hospital taught him procedural skills in a treating a range of IR pediatric cases, including percutaneous and endovascular treatment of venous, arteriovenous and lymphatic malformations.

At BCH, Dr. Kim also had innovative opportunities to acquire high-end technical skills he could replicate back at UNC. These included developing a high-quality MR lymphangiogram imaging technique for evaluating patients with a central lymphatic disorder. He also learned how to establish a cryotherapy protocol for treating vascular malformations and soft tissue tumors in patients not responding to conventional treatment.

Dr. Kim’s pediatric training at BCH has expanded his procedural expertise in vascular malformations to conducting clinical research as well. In December, he will present an abstract at the RSNA’s annual meeting on the MR lymphangiography findings of atypical lymphatic malformation. In May 2020, he will also present an abstract at the International Society for the Study of Vascular Anomalies (ISSVA)’s annual meeting on the venous anatomy of Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome.

Presenting patient outcomes from reviewing 98 venograms of pediatric Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome cases at BCH has opened a door for Dr. Kim to collaborate globally with other IR practitioners facilitating pediatric vascular malformations research. UNC Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Julie Blatt and Dr. Kim are PI and Co-PI, respectively, of Consortium of iNvestigators of Vascular AnomalieS (CaNVAS). CaNVAS is a BCH-led group of Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologists with affiliates from other specialties whose mission is to advance the care of patients affected by vascular anomalies through promoting and facilitating multi-centered, collaborative, clinical, translational and outcomes research. UNC is one of 16 member institutions.

After 10 years at UNC, Dr. Kim has become the point person for pediatric patients in need of interventional treatment. At UNC’s Children’s Hospital, his multi-disciplinary collaborations span a range of departments and divisions, including pediatric anesthesiology, hematology, oncology, surgery, plastic surgery, otolaryngology, pulmonology and gastroenterology. Meeting with pediatric patients and their parents for thorough pre- and post- procedural discussion helps answer any questions about the clinical condition and improve procedural outcome.

VIR Division Chief Dr. Charles Burke noted: “When Dr. Kim and I discussed his receiving additional training at BCH, we were looking at it from the perspective of gaining additional experience to build the vascular malformation program.  Since his return, it is clear that he accomplished that and so much more.  Not only is he superbly trained to treat all kinds of complex vascular malformations, he is also pushing new ideas on how we can take care of all of our pediatric patients.

It has been a vision of mine for several years to develop a more robust pediatric IR practice. Dr. Kim now has the skills and the drive to see that vision become a reality.  It is an exciting time, and I look forward to supporting his efforts as we move forward and continue to grow this important part of our practice.”

Dr. Kim wants to accelerate UNC’s fast-growing Vascular Anomalies Center toward becoming a top-tier facility nationwide for treating vascular anomalies. Assistant Professor of Radiology Dr. Jessica Stewart and Professor of Radiology Dr. Hortensia Alvarez have helped Kim advance this goal through bringing their interventional and vascular malformations expertise to the Center. With the procedural skills and knowledge Kim acquired at BCH, this faculty team seeks to establish UNC ‘s Vascular Anomalies Center as #1 in the Southeast for treatment of vascular anomalies.

Department Chair and Ernest H. Wood Distinguished Professor of Radiology Dr. Matt Mauro noted: “The return of Dr. Kim from Boston Children’s is the last piece of the puzzle to create a world class Vascular Malformation Center of Excellence.  We now have the components to be the premier location for the evaluation and management of vascular malformations in all locations and in all patients.”