Swedish News Blog

Drug treatment and weight loss restores vision in a blinding disorder linked to obesity

Steven R. Hamilton, MD

Steven R. Hamilton, MD
Neuro-Ophthalmology at Swedish Neuroscience Institute

As many as 100,000 Americans suffer from a disorder called pseudotumor cerebri or idiopathic intracranial hypertension that can cause permanent blindness and chronic headaches. The disease primarily strikes obese women of reproductive age with symptoms of daily headaches, visual symptoms including transient blurring or blindness, double vision, and pulsating noises in one’s head. Up to 5-10% of these patients may have permanent visual loss due to optic nerve damage.
 
A recent national trial funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute has shown that a common water pill, acetazolamide, combined with a moderate but comprehensive dietary and lifestyle modification plan can restore and preserve vision in women with this disease. I was one of the local investigators for this trial along with Dr. Eugene May.
 
The symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri are thought to be due to high spinal fluid pressure around the optic nerves and brain due to impaired reabsorption of spinal fluid that is continuously being produced within the brain. This results in chronic headaches and swelling of the optic nerves that can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. Patients typically are ...

Supporting patients with Parkinson's Disease

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP
Manager, Swedish Deep Brain Stimulation Program

On Saturday, May 17, Swedish was well represented at the Washington Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Annual Magic of Hope Dinner and Auction.  Several of our Swedish Neuroscience Institute providers, patients, caregivers, families, and distinguished community members attended the event, and contributed toward a successful fund raiser.  Swedish offered a generous donation to help sponsor the event, and Swedish patient and his wife David and Nancy Jones contributed a generous financial gift for programs and services for those living with Parkinson’s Disease in our communities.

Swedish is proud to partner with the APDA to support research, education, programs and services that stay in our community to benefit those living with Parkinson's Disease.

Weak link between epsilon toxin and MS

James D. Bowen, MD

A recent article has been published suggesting that MS may be caused by a bacterial toxin. The bacteria is Clostridium Perfringens, a common bacteria found in soil and a cause of food poisoning. This bacteria can produce a number of toxins, one of which is the epsilon toxin.

This study found that about 10% of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) had antibodies to the epsilon toxin, compared to 1% of people without MS. In pathology specimens from mice, the epsilon toxin was found to bind to blood vessels in the retina of the eye, and to myelin in the brain. The authors also reported a single case of a woman with MS who was infected with Clostridium Perfringens and that was producing the epsilon toxin.

Though this study has been widely discussed online, I think that it is unlikely that this will be the answer to the MS problem. This study was primarily in pathology tissue, which found that the toxin was able to bind to myelin. Many more studies will be needed to determine whether this toxin is capable of causing damage to myelin of the type that is seen in MS. There are many other known toxins to myelin, but so far none seem to be the cause of MS.

They tried to show that ..

Pituitary Tumors: Diagnosis and Management

Erin Kieper

Erin Kieper
Program Development Manager, Swedish Radiosurgery Center

The Swedish Pituitary Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute is one of the country’s largest centers for treating disorders of the pituitary gland – including pituitary tumors. The center brings together endocrinologists, neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of these tumors.
 
Tumors in the pituitary gland are quite common and many of them are so small they may go undetected throughout life. Although 99 percent of pituitary tumors are benign, the associated symptoms can be
debilitating, especially with hormone-secreting tumors. Regardless of the type of tumor, individuals with pituitary tumors may experience headaches, blurred vision, impotence/infertility, and mood changes.

Update from essential tremor (ET) forum

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP

Peggy Shortt, MN, ARNP
Manager, Swedish Deep Brain Stimulation Program

On Saturday, January 25, essential tremor (ET) patients in the community gathered for a symposium on the diagnosis, medical management and interventions for the treatment of tremor.  Swedish planned the event in collaboration with the International Essential Tremor Foundation.  Over 120 people in our community gathered to learn and share their stories. Dr. Gwinn discussed the MR Focused Ultrasound study, Gamma Knife, and Deep Brain Stimulation as treatment options for essential tremor.  Patients also shared their experiences with DBS.  It was a great event!

Swedish MS Center design recognized

James D. Bowen, MD

Less than two years old, the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center has already received an overwhelming amount of praise from patients and physicians alike for its holistic approach to world class care.

Now we can add one more accolade to the list.

Healthcare Design magazine recently recognized the MS Center’s patient and family waiting area as a finalist in the Family Spaces category of its Healthcare Design Remodel Renovation Competition.The entire piece beautifully encapsulates the approach, design and ultimately the quality of care that the MS Center strives to deliver. Here is an excerpt of one of the judge’s comments:

“The entire design is a phenomenal reflection of a deep understanding of the unique needs of patients with multiple sclerosis. It is apparent the design team did their research, listened to the voice of the patient and caregivers, and integrated evidence-based design principles….”

That’s high praise, and it is rewarding to know that the attention we paid to every detail — from furniture and flooring to treatment and waiting areas — was noticed. But it is even more rewarding to know that the center has become an incredible resource in treating those diagnosed with MS, a degenerative disease that strikes the central nervous system.

Debilitating Facial Pain May Be Trigeminal Neuralgia

Dean Hamilton, ARNP

Dean Hamilton, ARNP
ARNP, Swedish Cerebrovascular Center

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  ...
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