January 2014
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January 2014 posts

Cyberknife for spine patients

Cyberknife is a type of radiosurgery used to deliver radiation to a specific part of the body.  This high-energy x-ray system utilizes a robotic arm to deliver focused beam radiation.  While the focused radiation can destroy tumor cells and halt tumor growth, the surrounding tissues have minimal exposure to the radiation, thus sparing them from damage.

When is it used?

CyberKnife is useful for both cancerous and noncancerous tumors.  While it has been used to treat tumors of the head, neck, breast, lung, pancreas, kidney, liver, and prostate, it can be extremely effective for the treatment of  spinal tumors.  

How does CyberKnife work?

Patients who undergo CyberKnife have a specialized treatment plan created for them by their neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and a medical physicist.  These personalized plans take into account the specific location of the tumor in the body, including the tumor type, shape, size, surrounding tissues and organs (to minimize radiation exposure) and the exact quantity of radiation the tumor cells are receiving,

Why not just have surgery?

Any ....

Information on multiple sclerosis and flu

Now that flu season is upon us, we are getting a lot of questions about the relationship between MS and infections, including influenza. MS does not impair the ability to fight off infections. Likewise, most of the treatments for MS do not impair the ability to fight infections, though there are a few exceptions to this. Most people with MS will therefore not be at any higher risk of colds or flu than the general population. However, infections may affect the MS. People with MS have an increased risk of having an MS attack at the time of infections, including colds, flu, pneumonia, bladder infections, etc. Some have estimated that about 1 out of 10 infections will be accompanied by an MS attack. Likewise, for every MS attack about 1 in 10 will be preceded by an infection. This means that about 90% of MS attacks occur in the absence of an infection.
 
Another important question is the role of vaccination in MS. In general, vaccinations do not seem to cause MS attacks. Because the vaccinations do not usually cause MS attacks, but the flu can cause an MS attack about 1 in 10 times, most neurologists recommend that MS patients receive the influenza vaccine. It is ...

Debilitating Facial Pain May Be Trigeminal Neuralgia

All pain can be frightening, but when patients describe sharp, electric-type pain in their face, the cause may be Trigeminal Neuralgia, a treatable pain syndrome manifesting as unilateral facial pain that can be severe in intensity. The pain occurs in one or more distributions of the trigeminal nerve. The pain usually lasts for several seconds to several minutes followed by periods of being pain free. Trigeminal neuralgia pain can be triggered by sensory stimuli to the face including talking, brushing teeth, eating, and touching the face. In some cases, there is no trigger. The annual incidence of trigeminal neuralgia is approximately 4 in 100,000. The initial workup for trigeminal neuralgia may include an MRI of the brain to rule out brain tumor or MS plaques.

In many cases, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by compression of the facial nerve most commonly by the superior cerebellar artery or the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, although trigeminal neuralgia can be due to compression by a persistent permanent trigeminal artery or odioectatic basilar artery. Other causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia can include demyelinating disease (such as multiple sclerosis) and tumor. In some cases, the cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia is  ...

Why pregnant women should receive flu vaccine and pertussis booster

Why do we recommend that pregnant women receive both the flu vaccine and the pertussis booster during pregnancy? Here are a few reasons:
 
The influenza virus, better known as the flu, has been proven over and over to have the potential to cause serious disease in pregnancy.  That includes an increased risk that when pregnant women “catch” the flu, they may require admission to the intensive care unit, require a ventilator and, less commonly, even death.  It’s serious.   Babies of women who are infected with the flu during pregnancy are more likely to be born prematurely and are at increased risk for stillbirth.

We recommend the flu vaccine at any point in pregnancy and offer the single dose, preservative free vaccine in our office to all pregnant women (with the exception of those who have a medical reason not to get it.)  A common misconception is that the vaccine causes the flu - it does not.  Another misconception is that it is not safe for the developing baby to be exposed to the vaccine itself or the immune response it generates.  There is no evidence to support this fear in almost 50 years of administrating this vaccine and close follow up of those receiving it.

We recommend the flu shot, which is an inactivated virus. The Flumist is a live attenuated virus that is not recommended in pregnancy.

Your family members should also receive the vaccine as they can pass the flu on to a newborn who has not yet gotten the vaccine.  Babies can suffer severe complications if they are infected with the virus before they can receive the vaccine.
 
The other vaccine we recommend during pregnancy is the Tdap booster.  The benefit of the pertussis booster outweighs any perceived risk.  Pertussis, or the whooping cough, is at epidemic levels especially on the west coast including Washington State.  That may be  ...

Getting healthy for pregnancy

It’s a new year and whether you are planning to start a family or expecting a return visit from the stork, it is a good idea to prepare for pregnancy. Although pregnancy is a natural process, we often have patients ask how they can best prepare their bodies for one of life’s greatest journeys.

Below are answers to a few common questions that I often receive from my patients:


What if I am taking birth control?

Depending on the type you use, you may want to stop birth control a few months in advance of planned conception. Birth control suppresses ovulation and impacts fertility. The good news is the affects of birth control do not last long. For example, we recommend that women finish a pack of birth control pills, have their next menstrual cycle and then go through one additional full cycle before attempting to conceive. During this time, it is important to use a barrier method of contraception (condoms) if you plan to engage in sexual intercourse.

An IUD (Intrauterine Device) can thin the lining of the uterus. I recommend that patients with an IUD ....

Swedish Welcomes Record 9,014 Babies in 2013

Ballard, Issaquah Hospitals set Records with More Than 1,000 Deliveries



News Release
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 13, 2014                                                  
 

Contact: Clay Holtzman, Swedish, 206-386-2748, clay.holtzman@swedish.org


SEATTLE – Swedish Health Services delivered 9,014 babies across four hospitals in 2013, a record for the hospital system and an increase of 3 percent over 2012. Last year also saw a record number of births at both Swedish Ballard and Swedish Issaquah, which each surpassed 1,000 deliveries for the first time. In total, three of Swedish’s four hospitals offering childbirth services saw growth in 2013.

“We take great pride in providing Western Washington families with the very best convenience and care for their pregnancies and newborns,” said Jane Uhlir, M.D., executive director of the Women & Infants program at Swedish. “We share in the joy these families experienced last year and look forward to a lifetime of health and wellbeing for these children.”

Swedish Babies in 2013

Odds are that if you live in or around Seattle, either you or your children were born at a Swedish hospital. And after last year, those odds are even greater after our nurses and doctors delivered a record 9,014 babies in 2013.

Last year included a record number of births at Swedish Issaquah (1,149) and Swedish Ballard (1,022).

We attribute last year’s growth to our excellent reputation in the community as well as our outstanding ability to provide our patients with a safe, convenient and comfortable birthing experience. Last year we expanded our range of offerings for families when we opened our new Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns and our Level II nursery at Swedish/Issaquah.

Now for some fun facts:

  • August saw ...

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