Ajay Mangal’s story began nearly halfway around the world. Growing up in New Delhi, India, he enjoyed his schoolwork and spending time with family and friends. As a young boy, he hadn’t thought much about his future – but that changed after a visit from a cousin, who was a family practice physician in Webster City, Iowa. Mangal loved listening to his motivational stories – and it sparked an interest in becoming a doctor.
“I enjoyed hearing how my cousin’s knowledge and expertise helped improve patients’ lives,” recalled Mangal. “To be able to dedicate your time to serving others seemed like the noblest cause.”
A few years later, Mangal, then 12, got closer to realizing his dream. In search of a better life and more opportunity, his parents decided to move to the U.S., settling in Iowa near their cousin and other family members. After graduating from his new American high school with high honors, Mangal began his undergraduate collegiate journey at the University of Iowa and was among the youngest in his class to graduate medical school. He was just 22 years old.
“The toughest decision was choosing what specialty to pursue.” Mangal said. “I’d always been very good with my hands and wanted something procedure-oriented. Ultimately, otolaryngology was the most fascinating for me because of the microsurgery and complexities of treating issues around the face.”
Mangal completed his residency in 1989 at the University of Cincinnati. There he met his future wife, a fellow resident. Following graduation, Mangal stayed local while his wife worked to complete her own studies. The couple settled down in Cincinnati, started a family and began building their careers. In 1998, Mangal went on to complete his MBA at Xavier University – School of Business Administration. Then, from 2000 to 2009, he served as president and CEO of Prexus Health, a physician-owned developer and manager of imaging centers, surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.
While with Prexus, Mangal championed and helped raise awareness for life-changing, outpatient ear, nose and throat (ENT) procedures, including myringotomy (a surgical incision into the eardrum to relieve pressure or drain fluid) and septoplasty (a corrective surgical procedure to straighten the nasal septum by removing nasal obstructions from patients with difficulty breathing).
By 2011, the Mangal family was ready for a change (and a warmer climate) – and they decided to move to Florida.
Meeting Needs in Osceola County
Upon relocating to the Sunshine State, Mangal continued practicing at several area hospitals. A Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (FAAO-HNS), Mangal currently serves as an otolaryngologist at Allergy and ENT Specialists of Osceola, where he serves patients at Osceola Regional Medical Center. Working with people of all ages, from pediatric to geriatric, he specializes in disorders of the head and neck, including difficulty swallowing, hearing loss, tumors and even cancer.
“Due to Florida’s weather patterns and tropical environment, I treat many patients with allergy and sinus problems – but that’s not all an ENT can do,” said Mangal. “Patients whose breathing, hearing or speaking has slowly deteriorated often accept it as their new way of life. Many don’t realize the conditions that affect the ear, nose or throat can often be addressed with minimally invasive procedures that have the capability to vastly improve their quality of life.”
One such procedure is endoscopic sinus surgery which is used to remove blockages in the sinuses. If left unaddressed, these blockages can cause sinusitis, leading to drainage, pain and impaired breathing.
The procedure is usually performed on patients under general anesthesia using an endoscope. With a clear, magnified view of the sinus tissue, Mangal is able to safely and effectively remove blockages entirely through the nostril. And since there is no cutting involved, patients are able to go home the same day. “The most rewarding surgeries are those in which polyps or scar tissue are removed,” he said. “These procedures truly change a patient’s life, which makes the process extremely gratifying.”
Another procedure Mangal performs regularly is called balloon sinuplasty (BSP), often referred to as the “smart sinus” procedure.
“We begin by inserting a slim, flexible balloon catheter into the sinus passage,” Mangal explains. “As the catheter is slowly inflated, the sinus opening expands, allowing us to flush chronic pus and mucus buildup using a saline solution. Once the balloon is removed, patients feel a dramatic decrease in sinus pressure.”
According to Mangal, very few patients will require another procedure or repeat surgeries. Results from a recent study support that claim, concluding that BSP patients still report significant improvement in sinus pressure and breathing two years post-op.
Throughout his career, Mangal has continued to promote innovative treatments like BSP with the goal of improving patients’ lives – and he looks forward to helping patients in Osceola County, while continuing to research ongoing advancements in the ENT field.
And to bring his life full circle: Just as his cousin inspired him to become a doctor all those years ago, Mangal has instilled the desire to serve in his own three children, who have gone on to study law, psychiatry and medicine.