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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 ....

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 ....

Why do some people play their music so loud?

Have you heard someone ask this question?  Have you asked it yourself?  It is a question I hear frequently from persons in my office.  The answer is not simple nor is it the same for everyone.  There is one important factor, though, that remains poorly understood.

A short anatomy lesson

Our inner ear, or cochlea, has thousands of cellular components called hair cells.  These cells act as biological amplifiers when the sound arriving at our ear is soft.  That is, they pump up and down at the same frequency as the sound entering our ear making it more intense.  This allows us to hear very soft sounds.

These same cochlear cells which amplify soft sounds can also contract and dampen the loud sounds which enter our ear.  This prevents the ear from being over driven and this, in turn, prevents distortion.

So what happens if these cells are gradually damaged so that they no longer work properly?  The simple answer is ...

Hearing loss and holiday gatherings

Holidays are known for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season and the passing of another year.  For those with hearing loss, these gatherings can be more stressful than enjoyable. Small groups of people around the room all talking at once about how best to serve the cranberries or the beautiful lights that are decorating homes in the neighborhood can be difficult to hear even with a mild hearing loss.  Working to understand what is being said takes a lot of energy and focus and can result in the feeling of isolation, tiredness and depression.

There are things you can do to help improve your communication during these otherwise festive times.  No matter your hearing abilities, good communication strategies are always helpful when you are talking to others while cooking in a busy kitchen, gathered around the warm fireplace or sitting across the dinner table.  The Better Hearing Institute has some great suggestions to share with your loved ones.

Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you may benefit from the use of hearing aids or even a cochlear implant.  Many people think that hearing aids are only for the elderly and cochlear implants are only for young children.  This is not the case.  Your hearing loss and speech understanding abilities determines what technology is right for you with no regard to your age.  [Finally!  Something doesn’t care how old I am!!] There are ...

9 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

Amongst the cheer and merriment, parties and soirées, often come unwanted extra pounds that sneak their way around our waistlines. The span between Thanksgiving and New Years are filled with traditions and an extra average weight gain of 1-2 pounds. It may not sound like much, but consider over the course of a decade that can lead to an extra 10-20 pounds.  That extra luggage then leads to another tradition - the New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

Stop the insanity and start eating smart. Simple lifestyle changes will put an end to the cycle of overindulging, weight gain, and feeling miserable once the season is over. It is said the best offense is a good defense. By practicing these time-honored tips, you’ll likely feel fulfillment without getting overfilled.

1. Plan ahead.

If you know the party you are headed to will lack healthy options (hello, cookie exchange!) have a low-calorie, high protein snack prior to attending a party. This will keep your appetite in check and you will be less likely to arrive ravenous and overeat.  Hummus with vegetables, whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese, a piece of fruit with natural peanut butter, or Greek Yogurt with high fiber cereal are a few great choices to tide you over. Pair foods that are high in protein and rich in fiber to keep you satiated longer. At the party, keep to light appetizers.

2. Host a healthy holiday.

Control the nutritional content of the meal by throwing the party yourself. Plan the dinner menu with lean meats and seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, beans, and low-fat dairy. Use the opportunity to try healthy recipes from sites such as www.cooklinglight.com and www.eatingright.com (Ed. Note – check out our healthy recipe collection here or on Pinterest.) In lieu of a potluck, have party guests bring non-perishable foods to donate to the food bank.

3. Lighten up your menu.

Revamp your recipes by ...

How to give safe gifts to children during the holidays

As the holidays approach, parents often wonder what toys are safe for their little ones.  When making your list and checking it twice, here are some tips to ensure that toys are appropriate for the age and developmental stage of your giftees.

For younger children/infants:

  • Make sure all parts are larger than the child’s mouth.  Most children age 3 and under consistently put toys in their mouth, and some older children do as well.  A small-parts tester, or “no-choke tube” is about the size of a small child’s airway and can be purchased to test parts if you are unsure.  If a part or toy fits inside the tube, it’s too small to be safe.
  • When buying stuffed toys, look for embroidered or secured parts rather than pieces (such as eyes or noses) that could be removed and swallowed.  Remove all loose strings and ribbons.  Avoid animals with stuffing made of small pellets or material that could cause choking. Be aware that stuffed toys given away at carnivals, fairs, or in vending machines are not required to meet safety standards, so be especially careful with these!
  • When buying hanging toys for cribs, ensure that the child cannot grab any portion, and that strings or wires are short.  These types of toys should be removed when the infant can push up onto his or her hands and knees.
  • Keep plush toys and loose, soft bedding out of the cribs of infants and young children as these can cause suffocation.

For all children:

  • Look for labeling on the package that indicates what ages the toy is appropriate for.  Remember that this doesn’t have to do with how smart your child is, it is based on physical and developmental skills for his or her age group and should be followed.
  • Ensure that batteries are  ....
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