Dr. William Montano stands next to a Stryker 4D Laparoscope at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital

Dr. William Montano stands next to a Stryker 4D Laparoscope at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital

In recent decades, the medical field has made astounding advancements.

For example, since the 1970s, surgical techniques have progressed from traditional “open” surgery, an invasive procedure in which a scalpel is used to make a large incision in the patient’s body, to laparoscopic, in which a small incision is made with the use of a video assisted scope, to robotic, a minimally invasive surgery using a mechanical device and a miniscule incision.

Radiology has expanded beyond basic X-rays to also include magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and positron emission tomograph. An MRI scan produces detailed images of organs and tissues without the use of X-ray radiation, while a CT scan uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to produce cross-sectional images of the body. A PET scan uses dye with radioactive tracers to show how organs and tissues are functioning.

Additional scientific advancements include the cloning of DNA, the growth of organs in test tubes, and the creation of artificial skin, muscles, and bones. These advancements and more have decreased the risks of medical procedures and improved procedure outcomes, recovery time, and patient care.

Some surgeons who began their practice in the days before these new technologies have found it easier to retire than to change their ways. However, Dr. William Montano, who has been a general surgeon in Fairbanks for over 46 years, hasn’t had a problem keeping up. Montano began his career in the Interior as a general surgeon at Basset Hospital on Fort Wainwright. After working as an Army surgeon from 1974-1976, Montano opened his own private practice in Fairbanks in the Medical Dental Arts Building at 1919 Lathrop Street. The building, which is now known as the William H. Doolittle, M.D. Medical Building, is still home to Montano’s practice.

As an all-around general surgeon, Montano operates on almost all internal organs from the neck to the waist. He performs thyroid, lung, hernia and gallbladder surgeries, along with a variety of other minor procedures such as mole excisions and hemorrhoid removals. Montano continues to serve the Fairbanks community today by performing surgeries at both the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital ( and the Surgery Center of Fairbanks.

In the years since Montano’s time at Fort Wainwright, the medical field has made so many advancements that almost none of the procedures he performs are done the same way as when he began his practice. However, Montano has kept up with the times, if not outpaced them. For example, FMH recently acquired new equipment, including a 4D High Resolution Laparoscope, the best resolution scope currently on the market. The laparoscopic technique is video-assisted surgery using a laparoscope, a fiber-optic instrument which is inserted through the abdominal wall to view abdominal organs and allow small-scale surgery, such as gallbladder, appendix, colon, kidney, lung, and hernia surgery. Prior to the invention of the laparoscope, surgeons performed open surgeries, often requiring cuts across the abdomen longer than six inches. The minimally invasive nature of laparoscopic surgery, in which surgeons make several small cuts of approximately half an inch in length, allows patients to heal and recover faster.

Dr. Montano received laparoscope training to assist in gallbladder surgery, hernia repairs, and lung surgeries at the Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery Institute in Atlanta, GA, which gave him the skills he transferred to his practice in Fairbanks. Though robotic surgery was first conceived of 50 years ago, it didn’t became a reality until the late 1980s. Quick to see the advantages of this groundbreaking technology, Montano trained for robotic surgery at the Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ and the Intuitive Institute of Robotics in Sunnyvale, CA. He has found that robotic surgery enhances working in small areas of the pelvis and is most beneficial for obstetrics, gynecology, and urology surgeries.

Montano was the first surgeon in Fairbanks to go live with FMH’s new 4D High Resolution Laparoscope, which provided him with increased visual clarity during a lung procedure.

Just as FMH is staying current with modern medical equipment, Montano makes sure to stay abreast of the latest advancements in the medical field and on the operations of new equipment for optimal procedure success. Montano is a member of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) where he takes yearly tests on medical progress and procedures to stay board certified. Similarly, he follows the board requirement to complete ninety continuing medical education credits every two years. Montano attends the yearly ABS Congress, an event to promote medical knowledge, and stays in touch not only with the latest technology but also his peers. Dr. Montano is also a member of the American College of Surgeons and attends the weekly Tumor Board at FMH to discuss local patients and the best avenue for their cancer treatment with a team of pathologists, radiologists, and oncologists. Further, Dr. Montano is associated with Doximity, an online network for medical professionals offering medical news and case collaboration, Medscape, an online source offering clinical trial coverage and medical journal articles, and Audio Digest, an audio source of accredited CME. Through these avenues, Montano is able to stay up to date on medical advancements, review medical articles, and take self-assessment tests to complete his CME requirements.

When asked about his quest to stay current with new developments in his field, Montano recently said, “Following [medical] advances isn’t difficult if you stay well studied. Going to classes and seminars and meeting with medical professionals and technologists is a must. If you don’t keep up with the times in any profession, you will run yourself out of a job, and I’m not ready for that yet.”

Montano’s dedication to the community extends beyond his surgical practice. Throughout the years, Montano has supported countless local organizations such as Interior Youth Soccer, Interior Youth Basketball, Effie Kokrine Basketball, West Valley Basketball, Fairbanks Volleyball League, Gymnastics Inc., the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the American Cancer Society, the Strides Walk, the Cancer Walk, and the United Way of Tanana Valley.

Reader submitted article.