Michael D. Kirkham, MD (“Dr. Mike”)

Dr. Mike D. Kirkham chose family medicine because of its diversity. On a given day, for instance, he can follow up with a heart-attack patient, remove cancerous skin lesions, conduct a scout physical and prescribe anti-anxiety medications.

He loves, he adds, that “we can take care of just about anything that rolls through the door” — which he’s been doing at Tanner Clinic Kaysville since the branch clinic opened in 1996.

Dr. Kirkham, who is known as Dr. Mike to avoid confusion with his brother, Dr. Mark Kirkham, also a Tanner Clinic family physician, graduated from Idaho State University with a degree in microbiology. He earned his M.D. at the University of Utah School of Medicine, following that with a family-medicine residency at Scott Health and Wellness Center, Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he was named Family Practice Outstanding Teaching Resident.

Dr. Mike’s military deployments as a full-spectrum family physician for military families took him from Thailand to Korea to Japan, where he served for a time as resident physician in the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. While based with the 374th Medical Group at Yokota Air Force Base near Tokyo, Dr. Mike served as a family physician, as well as Persian Gulf Veterans Health Surveillance Director.

He then served with the 366th Medical Group at Mountain Home AFB as chief of family practice. Dr. Mike separated from the U.S. Air Force in 1996 as a major.

At Tanner Clinic, Dr. Mike is the Physician Director of Health Information Services, overseeing software development, implementation and training among Tanner Clinic physicians.

The board-certified physician enjoys spending time with his wife and five children. He loves to travel to visit family. In his spare time, you can find him fishing, computer programming, cooking or engaged in family history.

What patients are saying about Dr. Mike

“Dr. Mike’s been our family doctor since he came to Tanner Clinic in 1996. We think he is GREAT!”   — Shelly on Facebook, June 17, 2014

Vasectomy May Be Best Choice for Permanent Birth Control

When a couple had made the decision to seek permanent birth control, should she go through the procedure, which is generally a tubal ligation? Or should he?

Dr. Mike Kirkham, a family physician at Tanner Clinic Kaysville, believes it should be him who undergoes the permanent sterilization procedure of a vasectomy. Not only is a vasectomy safer than tubal ligation, it’s a quick procedure that has a short recuperation time.

“While a tubal ligation requires surgically entering a woman’s abdomen to perform the procedure, a vasectomy can be performed through a single small puncture wound to the front of the scrotum,” he said, resulting in surgery that’s “considerably safer than a tubal ligation.”

Dr. Mike Kirkham — who goes by Dr. Mike to avoid confusion with this brother, Dr. Mark Kirkham — is one of only two family physicians at Tanner Clinic who perform vasectomies.

Dr. Kirkham received his training in performing vasectomies as a physician in the U.S. Air Force. Most vasectomies are performed by urologists and the relatively few family doctors who have completed residencies that included specialized vasectomy training.

Quick procedure with little pain

In clinical terms, he says, a vasectomy is a surgical blockage of the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. The procedure does not, he adds, involve a sharp object such as a scalpel — though sometimes a needle needed to make the occasional stitch.

Dr. Mike describes the procedure as “a pretty quick, in-and-out procedure” that takes between 30 and 90 minutes. The procedure is performed in a clinic procedure room and does not require hospitalization. Usually, he adds, patients are “pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it is.”

A local anesthetic is applied during the procedure and medications that help relax the patient are prescribed. Although Dr. Mike describes the procedure as “not pain-free,” he adds, “It is manageable with medications to help keep the patient comfortable.”

Men are able to return to light duties within a few days, he said, and can usually resume full activities within a week.

Dr. Kirkham performs vasectomies for men in a range of ages — from the 20s to the 50s. “I don’t know that I’ve done anyone older than 50,” he adds. And the procedure, despite the patient’s age, comes with a dose of counseling. “We always do a certain amount of counseling before we schedule the surgery to talk about the benefits and risks, the anticipated outcome, complications and failure rates,” he said.

By the way, the failure rate of vasectomies is equivalent to that of tubal ligations — about 15 in 10,000, which is a very high success rate if you see the glass as half full. The surgery has no effect on sex drive or performance.

Permanency of vasectomy requires thought

Dr. Mike admits to shying away from performing sterilization surgery for men in their 20s. Usually, though, those 20- or 30-somethings are “guys who have four or five kids and feel they need to stop,” he said.

“I usually discourage a young person from having a vasectomy, but if (the patient) has a houseful of kids and he and his spouse are convinced they don’t want more, then . . .”

The one vasectomy-related question Dr. Mike is asked most frequently is whether the procedure can be reversed. Dr. Mike answers that there’s been “limited success” for attempted reversals, which require a complicated, multi-hour surgery. Some people will spend a lot of money to have it reversed with some success,” he said. “But it’s supposed to be a permanent procedure.”

Are Your Bones Thinning? DEXA Scan Can Tell

Tanner Clinic offers state-of-the-art DEXA scanning, which is the test of choice for determining a patient’s risk for bone-thinning diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

DEXA scans use low-dose x-rays to measure the density of bones usually in the spine and hips to determine if a patient’s bones are healthy and strong.

Bone-thinning diseases are very common in postmenopausal women and some men. These conditions increase a patient’s risks for fractures of the hip, spine and other bones as they age. When detected early, interventions can be applied to decrease the progression of bone loss and reduce risks for future fractures.

Certain conditions increase a person’s risk for developing loss of bone mass and thus warrant patients be screened periodically with a DEXA scan. Osteoporosis is so common in most postmenopausal women that periodic DEXA scans are recommended for most women after age 60.

Other conditions that cause increased risk and as such warrant periodic bone-density scanning include chronic kidney disease, chronic digestive problems, low-testosterone levels and other hormone problems. Also chronic use of medications such as prednisone, thyroid medications, anticonvulsants and some cancer meds increases risk for bone loss and as such may be deserving of periodic testing.

If you suspect you are at risk for bone thinning diseases such as osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about the potential benefit of a DEXA bone-density scan.

Dr. Kirkham interprets bone-density readings of all DEXA screenings done at Tanner Clinic.

In the Media
  • Dr. Mike was quoted as an expert source in a new story, “Seeking a second opinion,” that ran Jan. 14, 2015, in the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden. Read his opinion about second opinions.