August 2012
Blog

August 2012 posts

Brain Cancer Research in Seattle Leads to New Treatment Options for Patients

SEATTLE, Aug. 27, 2012 – Since its opening in 2008, the Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (the Ivy Center) at Swedish Medical Center's Neuroscience Institute has led the expansion drive of major research projects and expanded treatment options for patients living with brain cancer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world. The Ivy Center was founded in 2008 to create a world-class treatment and research facility focused on delivering excellent patient care and advancing progress toward more effective treatments for brain cancer.

Health Dot Com - Tips for Accessing Health Information Online

Copays and premiums and bills, oh my! Some health care services may be expensive but health information shouldn’t have a price tag. So what happens when  you just want the answer to a simple question? Whether there wasn’t enough time during an appointment, you forgot to ask your doctor, or your next check-up isn’t for a while, there are options to get the answers you need.

Many of us get a second—or first—opinion from Dr. Google, which may lead to incorrect or unreliable information. And while there’s nothing wrong with getting health information online, it’s important to make sure it is correct!

“But I don’t know the answer to begin with so how can I know if it’s correct?”

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Rib Fractures: Essentials of Management and Treatment Options

Rib fractures are the most common chest injury accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all traumatic injuries in the U.S. Nearly 300,000 people are seen each year for rib fractures and 7 percent of this population will require hospitalization for medical, pain, and/ or surgical management.

Rib fractures can cause serious complications including: bleeding in the chest (hemothorax), collapse of the lung (pneumothorax), or result in a fluid accumulation in the chest (pleural effusion), just to name a few. As well, rib fractures may contribute to the development of a lung infection or pneumonia. These problems are important to diagnose following chest trauma and even more importantly, when present, they need to be followed closely in the early post-traumatic period.

The most common symptom that people experience with rib fractures is....

Eliminating your risk for stroke

In the clinic, we work with stroke patients and their families to help them understand the risk of having a second stroke and what they can do to reduce their risk. Lifestyle and medical conditions determine your risk for a first, or second, stroke.

  • Do you have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Have you been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you avoid exercise?
  • Has a close relative had a stroke?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re at greater risk for having a stroke. If you’ve already had a stroke, your “yes” answers mean you’re more likely to have another one.

Your lifestyle can help you avoid a first or second stroke. And, because family history is a stroke risk factor, your entire family can benefit from a healthy way of life. Pledge to help each other stick to a routine that includes:

  • No smoking
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Taking medications are directed
  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Taking low-dose aspirin or a similar medicine (if recommended by your doctor)
  • Managing your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Constipation during infancy

As a pediatric surgeon with a special interest in intestinal issues, I am often contacted by worried parents regarding their baby's infrequent bowel movements. This can be caused by a variety of
problems such as blockages of the intestines or abnormal intestinal function (including a condition called Hirschsprung's disease); but most frequently babies are just efficiently absorbing and thus not needing to poop very often. This is especially true for breastfed babies. So, how can a parent tell the difference?

I would offer the following "red flags" as issues that may indicate a problem needing further medical evaluation:

What to do when Seattle gets hot

The area is heating up. The National Weather Service has announced an excessive heat watch for this Thursday and Friday, with temperatures that will rise into the low to mid 90s. When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at particularly high risk.

Here are some safety tips to avoid overheating and things to consider for the weekend:

Stay cool:

  • Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

  • Dress in lightweight clothing.

  • Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives and encourage them to take these precautions, too.

Drink liquids:

  • Drink plenty of water; this is very important. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.

  • Have a beverage with you as much as possible, and sip or drink frequently. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

  • Limit the time you're in direct sunlight.

  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.

  • Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.

  • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.

  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

  • Wear a hat or use an umbrella for shade.

What test is best for breast screening?

I often get asked why can’t a woman just get a breast MRI rather than a mammogram. The imaging tests that we do for breast cancer screening and evaluation of abnormalities have different strengths and weaknesses.

Mammograms are very useful as a screening tool. They can be done quickly and read efficiently by the breast radiologist. They have minimal radiation exposure. They can be done by a mobile coach in locations that are more convenient to patients. They are excellent for identifying abnormal calcium deposits within the breast tissue and for seeing disrupted tissue and masses. They may be less effective in women who have dense breast tissue but the digital techniques have helped some with that. 

Ultrasound is a great tool for evaluating a mass or tissue asymmetry found on mammograms. It can distinguish between a benign appearing solid mass, a fluid filled cyst, a mass that is suspicious for cancer, or normal appearing breast tissue. There is no radiation exposure. It is less reliable as a screening tool because it can be dependent on the skill of the physician or technologist doing the procedure. It is possible to miss abnormalities or to mis-interpret normal findings as abnormal. There are studies underway evaluating using an automated version of ultrasound as a screening test but the results are not conclusive and this is not considered ready for standard practice.

Breast MRI is a highly sensitive test that is very dependent on...

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