"Nothing can describe the intangible rewards of journeying with both the young and old patients and their family through what is usually the toughest time of their lives. To see them pull through their darkest moment and recover from their cancer, stroke or head injury, it is immensely rewarding."
As a medical professional, Asst Prof Nga constantly reminds himself that even while he endeavours to cure, it's equally important to care for patients as people first. He brings to mind the inspiring maxim from Canadian physician, Sir William Osler – often described as the father of modern medicine: "To cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always". These sentiments were also echoed by Dr Harvey Cushings, recognised as the father of modern Neurosurgery, in his quote "I would like to see the day when somebody would be appointed surgeon somewhere who has no hands, for the operative part is the least part of the work". As a neurosurgeon, Asst Prof Nga is well aware of the extraordinary privilege – and immense responsibility – of looking into the brain (and minds) of patients.
Asst Prof Nga received his medical degree from the National University of Singapore in 2007. He underwent basic General Surgical training and then advanced Neurosurgical training at the National University Hospital of Singapore.
In 2014, he received the Academic Medicine Development Award 2014 for which he underwent 2 years of further training at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom. At Cambridge, he was trained in paediatric neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, neurovascular, neurotrauma and complex spinal surgery. In 2015, he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (Surgical Neurology). Subsequently, he completed a Clinical Fellowship in Paediatric Neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, Canada.
A passion for minimally invasive brain surgery
Asst Prof Nga is particularly interested in minimally invasive surgery for brain and spine surgery as a technique to improve surgical outcomes, hasten recovery and shorten hospital stays. One of the surgical approaches he has trained in is the minimally invasive endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for skull base surgeries. He has completed a month-long clinical observership training with EEA master surgeons Dr Paul Gardner, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Dr Theodore Schwartz, New York Presbyterian Hospital. This surgical approach has increasingly been used to manage tumours such as pituitary tumour, craniopharyngioma, skull base meningioma and chordoma.
Innovation for better recovery
Asst Prof Nga holds a design patent for a unique burr hole cover that allows the seamless placement of subdural drains post drainage of chronic subdural hematoma. Data indicates that the implant not only improves cosmesis but also improves a patient's psychological and functional status. The device has been commercialised and is available internationally.
Improving the care of Paediatric Neurosurgical patients
Since September 2021, Asst Prof Nga co-founded and runs a one-stop multi-disciplinary paediatric brain and spine clinic to facilitate care coordination between Paediatric Neurosurgeons, Paediatric Oncologist and Paediatric Radiation Oncologist to improve clinical outcomes. This also enhances the paediatric brain and spina; tumour patients experience.