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Joshua Kain, Head and Neck Surgeon, Joins ENT Team

Joshua Kain, MD, joined Houston Methodist ENT specialists as a head and neck reconstructive surgeon in August 2021. Kain has a passion for reconstruction after cancer or traumatic injuries, including specialization in microvascular tissue transplantation and grafting. He shows grit and tenacity in the ways he solves problems and works tirelessly for his patients.
Joshua Kain MD
“When someone is seeking treatment for head and neck cancer, they automatically have a degree of fear about what to expect. We have a tremendous opportunity to provide patients reassurance and information, and to help them find the best path forward during a critical time in their lives," Kain said.
Kain, who grew up in Dallas, is happy to serve the people of his home state.

A Passion for Reconstructive Surgery

Kain was drawn to art and design in his youth, with dreams of being an architect one day. As a medical student, Kain was inspired by the creative elements of reconstructive surgery as an avenue for restoring function and improving aesthetic appearance. Being an “architect” who rebuilds the structures of the head, neck and face became his true calling. Kain completed his residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and finished his head and neck oncologic surgery fellowship at the University California, Davis. He also completed advanced training in craniomaxillofacial trauma surgery for repairs of the facial skeleton. He is experienced in the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgery techniques for the head and neck. “We are just one of two centers in the Greater Houston area with the ability to offer single port robotic technique for head and neck surgery,” he said. Kain specializes in benign and malignant masses of the head and neck, including the mouth, face, ears, eyes, throat, salivary glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands and upper airway/esophagus. Kain’s primary passion is in tissue transplantation for head and neck reconstruction. “After substantial trauma or cancer or benign tumors that leave a defect in head, neck or face, a reconstructive surgeon brings in tissue from elsewhere in the body to recreate that space. Using specific pieces of tissue — muscle, bone, fat and skin — we craft that tissue to reconstruct the defect. The blood vessels and nerves that supply those areas are then reconnected to the vessels and nerves in the neck using a microscope,” Kain explained.

Research on Nerve Repair

Research is what drives medicine forward at Houston Methodist, with new approaches to treating facial nerve injuries on the horizon. Kain’s current research involves partnering with advanced imaging labs through the Houston Methodist Research Institute and Oregon Health Sciences University to create novel fluorescent probes for intraoperative guidance for cranial nerve surgery. “We’re designing small molecules that target the surfaces of nerves so we can light them up during surgery. This is helpful for prevention of injuries during surgery, repair of nerves, and reanimation or reinnervation — even years after someone has lost nerve function. Some of the greatest head and neck challenges are in the realm of nerve damage, and this is an area where we can make a tremendous impact through technology,” Kain said.

Rounding Out the Team

Mas Takashima, MD, FACS, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, identified the need for a surgeon specializing in head and neck reconstructive surgery. “I’m honored to fill that role and bring something new to this group,” Kain said. “This was a vision of Dr. Takashima’s to have a well-rounded team providing comprehensive ENT care under one roof.” The Department of Otolaryngology now has 10 subspecialist ENTs who cover the gamut of head and neck and otolaryngology care, together with four generalists in the community for a total of 14 faculty members. Kain said working with this team is a dream opportunity for him. “We have an amazing group of people in the department, a world-class facility, and state-of-the-art technology to work with,” Kain added. “This puts us in a great position to meet people’s needs and offer tangible results.”