Alexander S Farivar, MD

  • Thoracic surgery
Accepting New Patients
1101 Madison St.
Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98104

General Information

Dr. Farivar has a broad based thoracic surgery practice. He enjoys helping patients and their families through their healthcare journey. He takes great effort to incorporate the needs and beliefs of patients and their families in his treatment plans. Dr. Farivar has a particular interest in lung and esophageal disorders, including cancer treatment. He also has interests in the appropriate use of robotic surgery to address thoracic surgery pathology, as well as malignant pleural mesothelioma.
  • Thoracic surgery
Education Background
Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine
Residency: University of Washington General Surgery Residency
Fellowship: Brigham and Womens Harvard Medical School
  • English
Professional Associations
Personal Interests
In his off time, Dr. Farivar enjoys spending time with loved ones and friends. He enjoys cooking, dining out, hiking, sports, water sports, and exploring the beautiful Northwest.





Farivar AS, Cerfolio RJ, Valli�res E, Knight AW, Bryant A, Lingala V, Aye RW, Louie BE. Comparing robotic lung resection with thoracotomy and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery cases entered into the society of thoracic surgeons database. Innovations (Phila). 2014 Jan-Feb;9(1):10-5. 
Deen SA, Wilson JL, Wilshire CL, Valli�res E, Farivar AS, Aye RW, Ely RE, Louie BE. Defining the Cost of Care for Lobectomy and Segmentectomy: A Comparison of Open, Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic, and Robotic Approaches. Ann Thorac Surg. 2014 Mar;97(3):1000-7. 
Deen S, Farivar AS, Louie BE. Thoracic techniques: robotic thymectomy for thymoma. Indian J Surg Oncol. 2013 Jun;4(2):132-7.
Wilson JL, Louie BE, Farivar AS, Valli�res E, Aye RW. Fully covered self-expanding metal stents are effective for benign esophagogastric disruptions and strictures. J Gastrointest Surg. 2013 Dec;17(12):2045-50.
Hunt BM, Louie BE, Dunst CM, Lipham JC, Farivar AS, Sharata A, Aye RW. Esophagectomy for failed endoscopic therapy in patients with high-grade dysplasia or intramucosal carcinoma. Dis Esophagus. 2013 Jun 24. 
Hunt BM, Louie BE, Schembre DB, Bohorfoush AG, Farivar AS, Aye RW. Outcomes in patients who have failed endoscopic therapy for dysplastic Barrett's metaplasia or early esophageal cancer. Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 May;95(5):1734-40. 
Qureshi AP, Aye RW, Buduhan G, Knight A, Orlina J, Farivar AS, Wagner OJ, McHugh S, Louie BE. The laparoscopic Nissen-Hill hybrid: pilot study of a combined antireflux procedure. Surg Endosc. 2013 Jun;27(6):1945-52.
Louie BE, Kapur S, Blitz M, Farivar AS, Valli�res E, Aye RW.  Length and pressure of the reconstructed lower esophageal sphincter is determined by both crural closure and Nissen fundoplication. J Gastrointest Surg. 2013 Feb;17(2):236-43.
Wagner OJ, Louie BE, Valli�res E, Aye RW, Farivar AS. Near-infrared fluorescence imaging can help identify the contralateral phrenic nerve during robotic thymectomy. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Aug;94(2):622-5.
Egan M, Louie BE, Farivar AS, Wagner O, Valli�res E. Laparoscopic repair of gastric herniation after extrapleural pneumonectomy for mesothelioma. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 May;93(5)
Hunt BM, Farivar AS, Valli�res E, Louie BE, Aye RW, Flores EE, Gorden JA. Thoracoscopic talc versus tunneled pleural catheters for palliation of malignant pleural effusions. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Oct;94(4):1053-7
Louie BE, Farivar AS, Aye RW, Valli�res E. Early experience with robotic lung resection results in similar operative outcomes and morbidity when compared with matched video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery cases. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 May;93(5):1598-604
Farivar AS, Louie BE, Aye RW, Horton MP, Valli�res E. Extrapleural pneumonectomy for primary pleural mullerian tumor in a young woman. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Jan;93(1)
Louie BE, Kapur S, Farivar AS, Youssef SJ, Gorden J, Aye RW, Valli�res E. Safety and utility of mediastinoscopy in non-small cell lung cancer in a complex mediastinum. Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Jul;92(1):278-82
Louie BE, Blitz M, Farivar AS, Orlina J, Aye RW. Repair of symptomatic giant paraesophageal hernias in elderly (>70 years) patients results in improved quality of life. J Gastrointest Surg. 2011 Mar;15(3):389-96
McCourtie AS, Merry HE, Wolf PS, FitzSullivan E, Keech JC, Farivar AS, Mulligan MS. Synergistic protection in lung ischemia-reperfusion injury with calcineurin and thrombin inhibition. Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Jun;89(6):1766-71.
Youssef SJ, Louie BE, Farivar AS, Blitz M, Aye RW, Valli�res E. Comparison of open and minimally invasive thymectomies at a single institution. Am J Surg. 2010 May;199(5):589-93. 
Nash RA, Yunosov M, Abrams K, Hwang B, Castilla-Llorente C, Chen P, Farivar AS, Georges GE, Hackman RC, Lamm WJ, Lesnikova M, Ochs HD, Randolph-Habecker J, Ziegler SF, Storb R, Storer B, Madtes DK, Glenny R, Mulligan MS. Immunomodulatory effects of mixed hematopoietic chimerism: immune tolerance in canine model of lung transplantation. Am J Transplant. 2009 May;9(5):1037-47.
McCourtie AS, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Merry HE, Wolf PS, Mackinnon-Patterson B, Keech JC, Fitzsullivan E, Mulligan MS.  Alveolar macrophage secretory products effect type 2 pneumocytes undergoing hypoxia-reoxygenation. Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 Dec;86(6):1774-9.
Wolf PS, Merry HE, Farivar AS, McCourtie AS, Mulligan MS. Stress-activated protein kinase inhibition to ameliorate lung ischemia reperfusion injury. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2008 Mar;135(3):656-65. 
McCourtie AS, Merry HE, Farivar AS, Goss CH, Mulligan MS. Alveolar macrophage secretory products augment the response of rat pulmonary artery endothelial cells to hypoxia and reoxygenation. Ann Thorac Surg. 2008 Mar;85(3):1056-60.
McCourtie AS, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Merry HE, Wolf PS, Szabo C, Mulligan MS. Poly (ADP) ribose synthetase inhibition in alveolar macrophages undergoing hypoxia and reoxygenation. Exp Mol Pathol. 2008 Apr;84(2):141-4. 
Farivar AS, Merry HE, Fica-Delgado MJ, McCourtie AS, Mackinnon-Patterson BC, Mulligan MS. Interleukin-6 regulation of direct lung ischemia reperfusion injury. Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Aug;82(2):472-8.
Farivar AS, Yunusov MY, Chen P, Leone RJ, Madtes DK, Kuhr CS, Spector MR,  Abrams K, Hwang B, Nash RA, Mulligan MS. Optimizing a canine survival model of orthotopic lung transplantation. Transplant Proc. 2006 Jun;38(5):1638-40.
Farivar AS, Delgado MF, McCourtie AS, Barnes AD, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Crosstalk between thrombosis and inflammation in lung reperfusion injury. Ann Thorac Surg. 2006 Mar;81(3):1061-7.
Chen P, Farivar AS, Mulligan MS, Madtes DK. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 deficiency abrogates obliterative airway disease after heterotopic tracheal transplantation. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2006 Apr;34(4):464-72
Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Barnes AD, Mulligan MS.  The effect of anti-inflammatory properties of mycophenolate mofetil on the development of lung reperfusion injury. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2005 Dec;24(12):2235-42.
Farivar AS, McCourtie AS, MacKinnon-Patterson BC, Woolley SM, Barnes AD, Chen M, Jagtap P, Szab� C, Salerno CT, Mulligan MS. Poly (ADP) ribose polymerase inhibition improves rat cardiac allograft survival. Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Sep;80(3):950-6.
Farivar AS, Mackinnon-Patterson B, McCourtie AS, Namkung J, Ward PA, Mulligan MS. Obliterative airway disease in rat tracheal allografts requires tumor necrosis factor alpha. Exp Mol Pathol. 2005 Jun;78(3):190-7.
Farivar AS, Mackinnon-Patterson BC, McCourtie AS, Ward PA, Mulligan MS. The role of CC and CXC chemokines in cardiac allograft rejection in rats. Exp Mol Pathol. 2005 Jun;78(3):171-6.
Farivar AS, Mackinnon-Patterson BC, Barnes AD, McCourtie AS, Mulligan MS. Cyclosporine modulates the response to hypoxia-reoxygenation in pulmonary artery endothelial cells. Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Mar;79(3):1010-6.
Woolley SM, Farivar AS, Naidu BV, Salzman A, Szabo C, Thomas R, Fraga C, Mulligan  MS. Role of poly (ADP) ribose synthetase in lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Nov;23(11):1290-6.
Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Naidu BV, Fraga CH, Byrne K, Thomas R, Salzman AL, Szabo CS, Mulligan MS. Poly (ADP) ribose synthetase inhibition reduces obliterative airway disease in rat tracheal allografts. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Aug;23(8):993-1002.
Farivar AS, Mackinnon-Patterson B, Woolley S, Namkung J, Shimamoto A, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. FR167653 reduces obliterative airway disease in rats. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Aug;23(8):985-92.
Farivar AS, Valli�res E, Kowdley KV, Wood DE, Mulligan MS. Airway obstruction complicating esophageal stent placement in two post-pneumonectomy patients. Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Aug;78(2):e22-3.
Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Fraga CH, Thomas R, Salzman AL, Szabo C, Mulligan MS. Intratracheal poly (ADP) ribose synthetase inhibition ameliorates lung ischemia reperfusion injury. Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Jun;77(6):1938-43.
Farivar AS, Krishnadasan B, Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Alpha chemokines regulate direct lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 May;23(5):585-91.
Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Farivar AS, Thomas R, Fraga CH, Goss CH, Mulligan MS. Early tumor necrosis factor-alpha release from the pulmonary macrophage in lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2004 May;127(5):1502-8.
Krishnadasan B, Farivar AS, Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Byrne K, Fraga CH, Mulligan MS. Beta-chemokine function in experimental lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. Ann Thorac Surg. 2004 Mar;77(3):1056-62.
Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Fraga CH, Byrne K, Mulligan MS. Proinflammatory response of alveolar type II pneumocytes to in vitro hypoxia and reoxygenation. Am J Transplant. 2004 Mar;4(3):346-51.
Woolley SM, Farivar AS, Naidu BV, Rosengart M, Thomas R, Fraga C, Mulligan MS. Endotracheal calcineurin inhibition ameliorates injury in an experimental model of lung ischemia-reperfusion. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2004 Feb;127(2):376-84.
Naidu BV, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Grainger D, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Novel broad-spectrum chemokine inhibitor protects against lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Jan;23(1):128-34.
Farivar AS, Krishnadasan B, Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Mulligan MS. The role of the beta chemokines in experimental obliterative bronchiolitis. Exp Mol Pathol. 2003 Dec;75(3):210-6.
Naidu BV, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Byrne K, Mulligan MS. Chemokine response of pulmonary artery endothelial cells to hypoxia and reoxygenation. J Surg Res. 2003 Oct;114(2):163-71.
Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Farivar AS, Thomas R, Fraga C, Mulligan MS. Simvastatin ameliorates injury in an experimental model of lung ischemia-reperfusion. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Aug;126(2):482-9.
 Naidu BV, Krishnadasan B, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Thomas R, Van Rooijen N, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Early activation of the alveolar macrophage is critical to the development of lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Jul;126(1):200-7.
Farivar AS, Krishnadasan B, Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Endogenous interleukin-4 and interleukin-10 regulate experimental lung ischemia reperfusion injury. Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Jul;76(1):253-9.
Naidu BV, Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Fraga C, Salzman AL, Szabo C, Groves JT, Mulligan MS. Exp Mol Pathol. 2003 Aug;75(1):12-7.
Naidu BV, Farivar AS, Krishnadasan B, Woolley SM, Grainger DJ, Verrier ED, Mulligan MS. Broad-spectrum chemokine inhibition ameliorates experimental obliterative bronchiolitis. Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Apr;75(4):1118-22.

Book Chapters:
Farivar AS, Lukanich J. "Resection of substernal goiter". In Sugarbaker DJ, Bueno R, Krasna M, Mentzer SJ, Zellos L (editors), Adult Chest Surgery. McGraw Hill, Chapter 133: 1108-15, 2009

Reviews: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Where do we stand in 2011? Respiratory Journal. 2011. Bharadwaj and Farivar.


Farivar, Gorden and Hunt. A comparison of VATS talc vs pleural catheter for management of malignant pleural effusion. Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, 2011.

Farivar AS, McCourtie AS, Delgado MF, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Mulligan MS. "Crosstalk between Thrombosis and Inflammation: Thrombin Activation after Lung Reperfusion". Bayer Research Scientific Committee. Phoenix, AZ. May 20, 2005.

Mulligan MS, Farivar AS, Yunusov M, Kuhr C, Leone R, Chen P, Madtes D, Glenny R, Storb R, Nash R. "Chimerism and tolerance induction to allogeneic canine lung grafts". American Transplant Congress. May 2005.

Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Woolley SM, Mulligan MS. "The Anti-inflammatory Properties of Mycophenelate Mofetil in Acute Oxidative Lung Injury". International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. Philadelphia, PA. April, 2005.

Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Woolley SM, Mulligan MS. "The Role of Poly (ADP) Ribose Synthetase in Acute Cellular Rejection in Cardiac Transplantation in Rats". Plenary Session of American Society of Transplant Surgery. January, 2005.

McCourtie A, Farivar AS, Delgado M, Mulligan MS. "Patterns of expression of STAT and SOCS proteins after lung ischemia and reperfusion". American Society of Transplant Surgery. January, 2005.

Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Woolley SM, Fraga C, Thomas R, Mulligan MS. "The Role of p38 in Experimental Obliterative Airway Disease in Rats". The International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation. San Francisco, CA. April 2004.

Farivar AS, Woolley SM, Fraga CH, Salzman AS, Szabo C, Mulligan MS. "Intratracheal Poly (ADP) Ribose Synthetase Ameliorates Experimental Lung Ischemia Reperfusion Injury". The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. San Antonio, TX. January, 2004.

Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Woolley SM, Mulligan MS. "Obliterative Airway Disease in Tracheal Allografts Requires Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha". American College of Surgery. New Orleans. 2004.

Farivar AS, MacKinnon-Patterson B, Woolley SM, Mulligan MS. "Alveolar macrophage secretory products synergistically amplify alveolar epithelial response to oxidative stress". The Annual Meeting CHEST. Seattle, WA. 2004.

Farivar AS, Naidu BV, Woolley SM, Salzman AS, Mulligan MS. "Inhibition of Poly (ADP) Ribose Synthetase Ameliorates Experimental Obliterative Bronchiolitis in Rat Tracheal Allografts". The International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation Meeting. Vienna, Austria. 2003.



Ditch the loofah for healthier skin

October 24, 2016

Is using a loofah really the best way to exfoliate and care for your skin? Swedish pediatrician Melissa Genualdi, M.D., says that to avoid bacteria, it’s much healthier to stick with the old-fashioned washcloth. Watch this video to learn more about the case against loofahs, plus the latest on liquid soap versus bar soap and the best way to moisturize your skin.

Young kids should play the field when it comes to sports

October 19, 2016

A recent report says kids are specializing in a single sport too early, leading to a greater risk of injury -- and burnout, anxiety and depression. Elizabeth Meade, M.D., a pediatric hospitalist at Swedish, explains and offers some advice on how to keep children active and healthy.

With Swedish Express Care at Home, we come to you

October 12, 2016
Swedish has brought back the house call. Curious about how Swedish Express Care at Home works, or if it’s right for you? This video and accompanying article tell the story of one woman who chose Swedish Express Care at Home.

At Swedish bariatric center, specialists treat an array of health problems

October 10, 2016
People who are obese tend to have other health problems as well. With its Bariatric, Metabolic, Endocrine Center, Swedish brings an array of specialists together in one clinic to provide all aspects of care for people who are trying to lose weight. Watch a video and read about how the center has helped one woman.

Meet Swedish MS experts in Bellingham on Nov 5

October 05, 2016
Join us in Bellingham for a free traveling educational workshop about multiple sclerosis. Learn from a nationally recognized team of MS health care professionals at Swedish Neuroscience Institute, share your experience and connect with others in the community living with MS.

Halloween Party and Winter Adventure Program Preview

October 03, 2016
Join us on Monday, Oct. 31, for a wicked good time at the MS Center at Swedish! Drop in from 1-4 p.m. for fall crafts, refreshments and a costume contest with prizes.

Swedish Hospital doula program for all women, no matter their delivery plans

September 22, 2016

When first-time mom Jessica Bertrand heard about the Swedish Doula Program from her doctor, she knew it was something she was interested in pursuing. Jessica hired Shelia Kandeler, one of the doulas contracted with Swedish. Read more about her experience.

We call it Express Care

September 08, 2016
Swedish, Providence and our other affiliates are helping pioneer the on-demand model for health care in the same way others are creating new models for ground transportation, dining and entertainment. The idea is to make health care diagnosis and treatment as quick, simple and convenient as ordering a pizza or catching a ride across town. That’s why we’re teaming up with Walgreens, offering instant online visits and bringing back the house call.

Meet Swedish MS Experts in Wenatchee on September 24

August 24, 2016

Join us for a free traveling educational workshop about Multiple Sclerosis in Wenatchee. Learn from a nationally recognized team of MS health care professionals at Swedish Neuroscience Institute, share your experience and connect with others in the community living with MS.

When: September 24, 2016
Time: 10 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Where: Wenatchee Convention Center, Orchard Exhibit South Room,

121 North Wenatchee Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801  |  Map

Cost: Free

MS Center Summer BBQ

August 11, 2016

Join us for an afternoon of food, music and education at the annual Swedish MS Center BBQ! We will have authentic American BBQ fare, live music by Soul Purpose Band and a talk by Dr. James Bowen, Swedish MS Center Neurologist and Medical Director. 

When: Saturday, August 27, noon to 5 p.m.

MS patients ride again with help from MS Center

August 08, 2016
Aimee Luzier and Michael Chalupa never thought they’d ride bikes again after they were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But the Adventure Program at the MS Center at Swedish knew it was possible. Watch a video and read about their first bike ride in years.

New help for moms with postpartum depression

July 27, 2016
Swedish has opened the first center of its kind on the West Coast to help new mothers struggling with depression. Watch this video to hear one woman’s story.

What is the Palliative Care and Symptom Management Clinic?

April 21, 2016
Palliative care is a service that helps people define their goals for their care with a focus on improving their quality of life during or following a serious illness. This service provides support as long as people need it, focusing on each person’s unique experience in order to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of living with serious illness. The multidisciplinary team helps patients and their families navigate the health care system and their options in order
to reduce suffering and maximize quality of life.

Be kind with yourself. Be patient with yourself.

April 21, 2016

Swedish’s first priority is the quality of the care we provide to patients and survivors, which means caring for your physical, mental and emotional health. The journey that begins at the time of diagnosis is a challenging one.

SCI spotlight: Penelope Nyder

April 21, 2016

Penelope (Penny) Nyder, a volunteer in the Cancer Education Center at First Hill has been with us since March 2008. As an experienced volunteer, Penny has several responsibilities. She inputs tracking data, makes class reminder calls, greets and assists patients and caregivers in the education center, and most notably, she visits the Treatment Center on a weekly basis. In the Treatment Center, Penny provides patients with educational material from the Cancer Education Center as well as informs patients of the supportive care services available.

Lets talk about sex: Q & A session

April 21, 2016

When you are coping with cancer and cancer treatment, your main focus probably has something to do with survival, which make perfect sense. As your team is assembled and a game plan is mapped out, thoughts may wander to cancer’s effects on day-to-day living including sex and sexuality. After all, as humans we are hard wired to love and be loved. Perhaps these questions have crossed your mind.

Wondering what's next? Life after cancer

April 21, 2016
The Swedish Cancer Institute offers a support group for cancer patients interested in learning how to adjust to life after treatment. The support group After Breast Cancer: What’s Next? features a variety of topics ranging from stress management and fear of re-occurrence, to body image and sexuality.

Can you go back? Life before and after MS

March 30, 2016

MS changes lives. What does this change look like? Should we accept it?

MS Center’s new play-reading group – bring your inner ham

March 23, 2016

Have you ever wanted to act in a play? Are you a theater person who does not act anymore? Join the MS Center’s new Play Reading Group for a fun, light-hearted way to get into character. With the assistance of a dramaturgist at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, this group will have access to thousands of classical play scripts.

Join the Swedish Team and walk to create a world free of MS

February 16, 2016

Join us Sunday, April 10, for the annual National MS Society Walk to raise awareness and help fund MS research. Register and help us make a powerful statement—and a real difference in the lives of people living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Meet Swedish MS Experts in Centralia on March 12

February 12, 2016

Experts from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are bringing a traveling roadshow of MS education and information to Centralia in March. Learn how to RSVP for this free event.

New music class at MS Center supports mind, body and heart

February 01, 2016

Join board-certified Neurologic Music Therapist Betsy Hartman in a dynamic music group at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish.  Betsy teaches neurologic patients simple music exercises that can improve mood and memory, and coping and organizational skills.

New adventure program at MS Center - ideas welcome

February 01, 2016

The Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish is beginning an Adventure Program for patients and their family members, caregivers and friends. See some of the ideas on our list and tell us what you’d like to do.

Dr. James Bowen makes Seattle’s Top Doctors list

February 01, 2016

James Bowen, M.D., the medical director of the MS Center at Swedish, was named to the 2016 list of Top Doctors in Seattle. Learn about his philosophy of caring for people with multiple sclerosis.

Dr. James Bowen Part of HALT-MS Trial

January 28, 2016

The MS Center’s Dr. James Bowen is a part of the HALT-MS trial, which has made the list of the 20 top research advances supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). 

Occupational therapist and adventure guide joins MS Center

December 30, 2015
The Swedish MS Center welcomes Simon Gale, OT/L, who will serve as an occupational therapist and recreational guide. Simon will help patients maintain arm function, posture and independence with daily activities. He also will help patients participate in recreational activities despite disabilities.

MS Center November pet (angel) of the month

November 30, 2015
Meet Truitt, a tenderhearted pet therapy dog who has a soft spot for hospital patients and doubles as an angel.

Introducing solids to your baby

October 26, 2015
Being a pediatric dietitian, I had pretty lofty ideals when it came to my own son’s introduction to solid foods. I had dreams of making everything from scratch with my baby food steamer/processor using only organic foods. I also intended to introduce foods one at a time, with only one new food every 3 days. It quickly became apparent that my ideals were not practical or realistic to do 100% of the time as a full time working mom. Making food from scratch takes time. Also knowing that between 4-6 months old is a window of time to introduce foods to prevent allergies, I realized there are a lot more foods to introduce than can be fit into a 3 month window using that system. Easier said than done!

Here are a few things I learned from my own experience, combined with my expertise as a pediatric dietitian:

Do the unexpected when living with multiple sclerosis (MS)

September 30, 2015
Sixty seconds of free fall at 120 miles per hour followed by a six minute float from 12,500 feet above the ground. Scary? Nah. Not to Jenel Kludsikofsky.

Jenel has been skydiving five times since being diagnosed with MS, and she was decidedly not nervous the first time. After making the decision to float the sky before turning 40, Jenel immediately fell in love with the sport. "I find it liberating, and it puts me on a 'normal' level with non-MS people." Having always jumped tandem, Jenel says the instructors treat you as though you are without disability. When you are one with the clouds, your physical shortcomings no longer provide any complications.


MS neurologist Pavle Repovic talks about TRANSFORMS trial in Neurology Today

September 18, 2015

A post-hoc analysis of follow-up data from the TRANSFORMS trial suggests that early disease activity during a patient’s first year on fingolimod predicts longer-term outcomes in multiple sclerosis. Click here to read the analysis by Pavle Repovic, a neurologist at the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center.

"Life goes on" despite multiple sclerosis

September 03, 2015
Ed. Note: This blog post was written by Ed Johnson about his experiences before and after being diagnosed with MS.

I miss coaching college and high school volleyball. I was a college volleyball coach for 15 years with various schools. Perhaps the high point was when our Missouri Valley College men’s team was ranked number two in the entire nation. We were so good that year that many bigger-name schools refused to play against us, fearing embarrassment if our smaller school won. That was before M.S.

Bike the US for MS donates $25,000 to Swedish MS Center

August 20, 2015
For the fourth year in a row, the committed riders of Bike the US for MS arrived at the Peddler Brewing Co. in Ballard this month to present a $25,000 gift to the Swedish MS Center in honor of its excellence in MS care.

Swedish MS Center Roadshow headed to Yakima

August 12, 2015

Experts from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are bringing this traveling roadshow of Multiple Sclerosis education and information to Yakima, Washington on Sept. 19, 2015.

Why Have a Day Dedicated to Hepatitis?

July 28, 2015
Viral hepatitis is the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. In fact, the two most common forms, hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV), infect over 500 million people around the world – compared to 31 million with HIV. Chronic HBV is the most common cause of viral hepatitis followed by HCV. These two viruses are responsible for up to 2 million deaths a year. Therefore, it makes sense to call attention to this important global issue and this is why July 28 is World Hepatitis Day.

MS Center BBQ

July 09, 2015
Come join the Swedish MS Center for the Summer BBQ on July 25! There will be a catered lunch with live music, as well as a talk by Dr. James Bowen.

When: Saturday, July 25
Time: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: MS Center at Swedish
1600 E. Jefferson St., A Level
Seattle, WA 98122
RSVP: Janice Huertas, 206.320.2200

8 Things Nobody Told You About Being in a Wheelchair

June 20, 2015

As someone living with multiple sclerosis and a patient of Dr. James Bowen, I wanted to share what I’ve learned about living with a wheelchair.

Chair Yoga for Your Mind Body and Spirit

June 17, 2015
For years, yoga advocates have eagerly shared their thoughts about the benefits of this type of exercise. However, you don’t have to just take your neighbor’s word for it. These first-person anecdotes are endorsed by several comprehensive research studies. This research shows that a regular yoga routine has a positive effect on a person’s mind, body and spirit. This is particularly encouraging for cancer patients who may have limited energy to dedicate to exercise.

Nutrition A Vital Component to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

June 17, 2015
Most people know that a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate goal; but often it isn’t very easy to achieve. There are several components to a healthy lifestyle:
  • A well-balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • A good night’s sleep
  • A moderate approach to reducing stress

Taking Charge of Your Health

June 17, 2015
It is important to take charge of your health. Being proactiveand setting up regular visits and health screenings with your medical care team is both necessary and beneficial.

Restoring Body Image and Sexuality after Cancer Treatment

June 17, 2015
Your journey to wellness begins as soon as your cancer treatment ends. One of the first challenges along that path can be getting used to a body that cancer has altered. How your body looks and functions may be different and unfamiliar. It is not unusual for body image to suffer during this time, which can create stress in relationships and diminish sexual enjoyment. Regardless of gender or type of cancer, you might want to try “returning to normal,” yet the lingering impacts of cancer treatment can make this an unlikely prospect.

Neuroplasticity Model of Music Therapy

June 04, 2015
Listen to this podcast about how music therapy can help stimulate alternative pathways in the brain as well as help facilitate control of movement.  The MS Center at Swedish offers group Music Therapy sessions with a licensed musical therapist. 

Sudden Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know

May 28, 2015

Sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency that annually affects about 4,000 people in the United States (Gianoli and Lee, 2001). Sudden hearing loss happens in a specific way: It generally affects only one ear and occurs within a period of 72 hours. It is frequently accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ear), vertigo, or a combination. The hearing loss may be partial or complete. 

Prosser Kid Refuses to Let Multiple Sclerosis Steal his Childhood

May 15, 2015
12 year old Luke Merritt deals with MS everyday but refuses to let the disease steal his childhood.

Walk MS 2015 a Success for the Swedish MS Walk Team

May 11, 2015
Thank you to all who walked in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Walk MS event to raise awareness about MS and help fund a cure. With over 170 team members, and over $15,000 raised, the Swedish MS Center, Neuro-ophthalmic Consultants of NW, and Seattle Radiologists team well exceeded the fundraising goal of $10,000. To kick off the event, the “Swedish Smyelin Babes” running team lead by Neurologist, Lily Jung Henson, ran the inaugural 5K race at 8 a.m. Around 10 a.m., the Swedish MS Walk Team along with nearly 5,000 individuals walked along the Burke Gilman Trail in support of MS, family members, friends and colleagues.

Musician David Osmond Tours the Multiple Sclerosis Center with Dr. James Bowen

May 08, 2015
Musician David Osmond, from the famous musical Osmond family, visited the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center, touring the clinic with medical director, James Bowen. Having been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2005, Osmond was interested in learning more about comprehensive care for MS.

Meet MS Experts in Port Angeles on May 30

April 23, 2015

Experts from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute and the National...

MS on the Radio

April 21, 2015
Pavle Repovic, Neurologist, MD, PhD, at the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center discuses with 91.3 KBCS radio producer the prevalence of MS in our region and what comprehensive care provides for those visiting the MS Center. Two individuals also share their personal experience with diagnosis, treatment and life with MS. 

Accepting Art for the Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show 2015

April 21, 2015
The Multiple Sclerosis Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute is proud to present the 6th Annual MS Center Art Show. Over the past five years, the Art Show has welcomed creative works of all ability levels from those affected by MS in the Pacific Northwest. 

A Quest to Raise Money for Comprehensive MS Care

April 16, 2015
Ever since Amy’s husband was diagnosed with MS, life has not been the same. Rehabilitation and treatment at the Swedish MS Center have become a routine part of their lives. Grateful for the resources available at the MS Center, Amy has gone on a quest to raise money for the clinic through her marathon training. With the end goal being the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on June 13, Amy has been running three days a week and cross training with 60 minutes of Barre3 classes. While somehow juggling two young children, her own business, and the ups and downs of this disease, Amy has trained relentlessly and will graciously donate all the money raised to the MS Center.

Get Back your Music Sessions at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

April 14, 2015
The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center at Swedish is offering a new music program for practicing and formerly practicing musicians who have lost the ability to play piano or guitar due to their neurological condition. Private sessions are being held with musician, Phil See, to recondition one’s musical abilities.

Last Chance to Sign Up for the WalkMS this Sunday

April 09, 2015
The Swedish MS Center, Neuro-ophthalmic Consultants Northwest, and Seattle Radiologists have formed a team for Walk MS to experience a great event and help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people with MS live their best lives.

Dr. James Bowen and Musician David Osmond to Speak at Talaris Botanical Gardens this Friday

April 07, 2015
Join us for a presentation by James Bowen, MD, Medical Director of the MS Center at Swedish and singer David Osmond from the famous musical Osmond Family. Come learn from one of the leading experts in the MS field and hear Osmond sing "I Can Do This"– his personal composition about life with multiple sclerosis.

March Pet of the Month

March 18, 2015

Get to know Rosie and Ringo, the MS Center Pets of the Month.

Country Music Artist Clay Walker Visits the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

March 04, 2015
Country music artist, Clay Walker, visited the Swedish MS Center last Tuesday, touring the clinic with medical director, James Bowen. Having been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS 19 years ago, Clay was interested in learning more about comprehensive care for MS. After researching MS Centers around the country, Clay decided to visit a handful of centers that offer the best comprehensive programs.

Walker believes an emphasis on non-medical aspects of the disease could benefit patients. He was particularly interested in learning about the MS Center’s physical rehabilitation program and wellness offerings including, gym access with specialized equipment for MS patients, exercise training, Pilates, and Yoga. Walker was also eager to learn about the MS Center’s emotional wellness offerings including psychology, psychiatry, support groups, music and pet therapy, and the annual art show. Other areas covered during his tour were elements of community wellness including social work, voca...

Health Consequences Associated With Untreated Hearing Loss

February 23, 2015
As research continues in the area of untreated hearing loss more and more findings show that it is not worth it to wait to do something about hearing deficits.  Current research is showing correlations between untreated hearing loss and dementia, depression, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as increased mortality.

A study published in the Archives of Neurology on February 14, 2011 found that hearing loss was associated with dementia (all causes).  They noted that the greater the hearing loss the more at risk a person was for dementia.  Additionally, they noted that for individuals in their study over the age of sixty, more than one-third of the subjects with risk of dementia had associated hearing loss.  One reason that may support these findings would be the exhausting of cognitive reserves; in other words more brain power goes into straining to listen for comprehension of speech than other cognitive processes, like working memory.

Another study ...

Heart health and hearing loss may be connected

February 18, 2015
Could hearing loss be an indicator for cardiovascular disease? February is American Heart Month so it is a perfect time to bring up this question. More and more research has been showing that there is a link between people’s cardiovascular health and their hearing. This is yet another important reason for middle-aged and older adults to get their hearing tested.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it accounts for nearly 30% of all deaths worldwide. Fortunately, early intervention and identifying important risk factors for cardiovascular disease has decreased its incidence. Despite the medical advances in recent decades, there is still a need for more sensitive screening techniques to identify heart disease sooner.

This is where hearing testing could come in:

Join the Swedish MS Center Walk Team at Walk MS

February 17, 2015

The Swedish MS Center, Neuro-ophthalmic Consultants Northwest, and Seattle Radiologists have formed a team for Walk MS to experience a great event and help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people with MS live their best lives.

Walk MS is a day that ...

Catch the Multiple Sclerosis Roadshow in Tacoma

February 14, 2015

Experts from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are bringing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) education and information to Tacoma. Come learn from a nationally recognized team of MS health care professionals, share your experience, and connect with others in the community living with MS.

When: Saturday, March 28
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Where: LeMay America's Car Museum, 2702 East D Street, Tacoma 98421
Cost: Free

Seminar Topics:

Volunteer trip to Kenya for spine surgeries

February 12, 2015

I'm in Nairobi, Kenya in the hopes of performing 20 much needed spine deformity surgeries.  While in Kenya we will be working along side the Kenyatta National Hospital surgeons to develop a sustainable spine treatment program through hands on training and education.

We'll be working with the National Spinal Injury Hospital (NSIH), which as the name suggests is a hospital who offers medical treatments to patients with spine injuries. NSIH is a national referral facility with a capacity of 32 beds. For this reason, it cannot accommodate more than 30 patients at any one time; 2 beds are to be spared for medical procedures. Statistics indicates that there are over 200 people waiting for treatment at any one single time.


February Pet of the Month at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

February 12, 2015

Cat: Kelly Bear
Owner: Misty
Age: 4
Breed: Domestic Longhair Calico
From: Eva's Eden - Cat Rescue, Blaine, Washington
Favorite toy: Toy bird that chirps
Favorite snack: Greenies treats
Unique fact: Only female cats can be Calico
Best trick: To walk on a leash or ride in a car
Describe your pet in one word: Love
How has your pet taught you to live life?
"She has shown unconditional love and taught me to  ...

MS Patient Enjoys Skiing Again

February 07, 2015

Bud Feuerstein is flying down the mountainside on an adaptive mono ski, a product of Outdoors For All (a nonprofit organization that enables recreational activities for individuals with disabilities).

Eight years prior, Bud would have been carving the slopes on his own set of skis, but due to a rare disease, he was left paralyzed from the chest down. Bud will never forget the night he was lying in bed and an odd sensation came over his body. Within seconds, he was paralyzed. Months later, he was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a disease in the multiple sclerosis family. Having a better chance of winning the lottery, Bud was blindsided by this diagnosis, and his life was forever changed.

With this earth-shattering news, Bud had two fears:

MS Book Club Launch at the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

January 28, 2015
What: Book club launch, hosted by author of Chef Interrupted, Trevis Gleason

When: Friday, March 6, noon - 3 p.m.

Where: MS Center at Swedish
1600 East Jefferson Street, A Level
Seattle, WA 98122

RSVP: Mallory Higgins, 206-320-2200

Different treatment options for acid reflux

January 21, 2015

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most common disorder of the upper gastrointestinal track, affecting nearly 40% of the American population. Antisecretory medications such as omeprazole are the mainstay of treatment, but 40% of patients have incomplete control of symptoms. While surgical repair (fundoplication) is highly effective, only 1% of patients have an operation, leaving a large group of individuals incompletely treated.

The Stretta procedure is another option to treat GERD.

Do healthy young adults need a yearly physical?

January 19, 2015

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., an oncologist and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times called “Skip Your Annual Physical.” He stated his new year’s resolution was to skip his check-up with his primary care provider. He said it was one small way he could help reduce health care costs – because, from a health perspective, the exam was “basically worthless.”

That’s a pretty bold statement – one which might cause head scratching and confusion among the general population. After all, it goes against everything we’ve been told. And while his article makes some valid points, I don’t agree with his assessment that there’s no value in regular visits with your primary care provider unless you have a medical issue or complaint.

Video: Music, Movement and Meditation Class at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

December 20, 2014

Click on the link below to watch footage of the Multiple Sclerosis Center’s Music, Movement and Meditation class with instructor, Gayle Cloud. This upbeat class is a blend of music and song combined with lighthearted activities. Bring your dancing shoes or wheels—Gayle will have you doing gentle movements to the beat. Music is offered to all patients with MS, Parkinson’s, stroke, or similar disease. Family members, caregivers, and friends are welcome to attend as well. No music experience required; wheelchairs are welcome.

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) published research that shows how music can help:

December Pet of the Month

December 18, 2014

Pup: Katie
Age: 14
Owner: Carlo
Breed: Australian Cattle Dog
Favorite toy: Hedgehog Baby
Unique fact: Katie has three legs

What makes your pet special?

I am her focus.  She is my shadow.  We have been together for over 10 years.  We went across country on an antique wheelchair trying to raise money and awareness for MS.  We started the nonprofit, "The Spirit of Hope Foundation."  The U.S. government asked Katie and I to attend one of their events in Washington D.C.  It was a  ...

Seasonal Celebration at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

December 12, 2014

Join us!

The Swedish Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center is hosting a gathering to celebrate the holidays and show our appreciation for the MS Community. Join us for refreshments, appetizers, music, activities, and a raffle of prizes. This is a FREE event.

FREE gift wrapping

Bring your gifts and we will wrap them for you! Wrapping paper and ribbon will be provided by the MS Center.

When:   Friday, December 19
Time:  Noon – 3 p.m.
Where:  MS Center at Swedish
1600 Jefferson Street, ...

Catching Kayla � High School Girl with MS Becomes Top Runner in Country

December 08, 2014

Here is a remarkable story about high school runner Kayla Montgomery -- who, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, has become one of the best young distance runners in the country. Click here to watch the video.

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 9

December 07, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The birds are beautiful here. Sitting outside our apartment, looking into our courtyard I can watch and listen to a multitude of birds. The small ones seem to come out earliest, singing in their soprano voices. As the sun rises, more birds join, adding their alto and tenor voices. There is even the occasional baritone who sounds as if he is singing from an enlarged globe deep in his throat. The colors of their voices match the vibrant colors of their feathers. It seems that the more vibrantly colored birds appear earliest in the morning, and then they disappear as if to shield their beautiful attires from the glaring sun. I wish to capture some of these birds on my digital camera, but alas, they are difficult to capture. Maybe this is part of their allure. Maybe this is why bird aficionados are “bird watchers.”

Multiple Sclerosis and Affordable Care Act

December 05, 2014

Take a look at this panel discussion interview where Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center neurologist Dr. James Bowen and a nationally recognized health insurance expert discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace as it specifically relates to the needs of the multiple sclerosis community. Some of the key topics include cost and coverage of MS medications, the benefits of a selecting a silver-level plan, ways to ensure access to care, expansion of Medicaid, and how to appeal coverage denial.

New healthy weight class series in January

December 02, 2014

In this 3 series class you will learn the tools to eat well and maintain a healthy weight.  Whether you want to lose weight or learn how to maintain your weight, or your family’s weight, this series is for you!

In this class, you will gain:

  • Tools for everyday life including: Shopping lists and recipes, how to read a food label, proper portion control, and mindful eating techniques
  • An understanding of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals
  • An understanding of your own relationship with food

Fee: $68 for the 3 class series (includes you and one guest)

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 8

November 30, 2014

November 30, 2014

What a week. I wish I had been writing as the week progressed, but here we are, it is Sunday night, and I will try to capture the events and emotions.

This week the French were here. Three urogynecologists from Paris and Lyon came to the University of Gondar to help teach the faculty some advanced urogynecology techniques for patients with extreme pelvic organ prolapse. Dr Bertrand (“Bertie&rrdquo;), Dr Georges, and Dr Stephan are as French as French can be. I was delighted to try my French language skills and they were gracious enough to let me try. Their English was very good, but in true French form they would prefer to avoid using that language. The French and English have a long history of granting each other plenty of autonomy. These three were no exception. They are also fabulous surgeons. My interest was piqued, and I decided to Google one of their names. Dr Georges’ name surfaced to the top of a dozen prominent gynecology studies, and a few patents involving one of the most successful urinary incontinence procedures available today – worldwide. And here he was in Gondar, Ethiopia!

Swedish partners with DOH to support regional Ebola preparedness

November 17, 2014

Today, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that eight Washington hospitals have agreed to receive and provide ongoing care for Ebola patients. Swedish Issaquah is one of the eight hospitals.

Although all Swedish hospitals and clinics are preparing to identify and triage a patient presenting with symptoms of Ebola, Swedish Issaquah was selected for the dedicated inpatient unit because the hospital has the best combination of needed isolation space and technology, and because it serves a geographic population the DOH needed to have served.

It is important to remember that there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Washington state, and that an outbreak is very unlikely to occur here.

At Swedish Issaquah ....

On breastfeeding & breast cancer survivors

November 12, 2014

When I was a surgical resident, I donated 150 ounces of breastmilk to a woman I’d never met, a woman who had undergone a bilateral mastectomy for cancer. It was an easy decision – I had more than I could use, she had none that she could provide. This experience became a major one in my decision to specialize in breast surgery. The dichotomy of breasts fascinated me. Breasts are highly sexualized, yet the source of comfort and food to babies. Breasts can make life-sustaining milk, and they can develop a cancer in up to 1 in 8 women that can be life-threatening. It is no wonder that society’s relationship with breasts and breastfeeding is complicated.

I have had many patients (too many) in my practice who were young and pre-childbearing, or even pregnant or breastfeeding at the time of diagnosis. Most experience ...

The difference between service dogs and therapy dogs

November 11, 2014
A service dog is an assistance dog that has been specially trained to help someone who has a disability. Service dogs work only with one owner/handler. They are trained for the person’s specific needs. For example, an owner/handler may have mobility limitations, hearing loss or deafness, visual impairment, or autism.

A service dog may be provided to the owner/handler at no cost. In some cases, the owner/handler may purchase the dog.

Some service dogs wear a vest, working harness or a bandana to signify that they are trained. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require them to do so. The ADA covers public access for service dogs ...

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 6

November 07, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Facebook is a wonderful thing. My birthday was a couple of days ago and I felt that I received more birthday greetings than I ever have before. Several people sent personal emails, and my parents even called on the phone. I send everyone a HUGE thank you for your well wishes. Life is challenging, and every encouraging remark helps.

Mark went a little crazy and organized a party at our apartment guest house with Josh, Sonja, Janis and Stephan, the other ex-pats living here. We had traditional Ethiopian food, delivered to the door, a couple bottles of wine, and a real birthday cake with candles. Mark decorated the room with a string of holiday lights and frilly banners. Nuru, our most trusted Bajaj driver, apparently drove Mark all around town to find candles at one shop, the cake at another, lights somewhere else, the banners yet another. Josh and Sonja made decorative and artistic birthday cards. Mark’s big present was fixing BOTH toilets in our apartment. He was a little disappointed that I did not show more excitement when his gift was unveiled, because apparently it took several more trips with Nur and many hours to accomplish. I was appreciative, but chocolate and good wine from Janis and Stephan provided more immediate gratification. I think the initial pounds that I lost have been reestablished over the last couple of days of cake and left over injera, tibes, and shiro.

Free Traveling Educational Workshop about Multiple Sclerosis in Bremerton

November 06, 2014

Experts from the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are bringing this traveling roadshow of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) education and information to Bremerton, Washington.

Where: Kitsap Conference Center Bremerton Harborside
100 Washington Avenue Bremerton, Washington  98337

When: Saturday, November 15, 2014, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Workshop Topics
  • Comprehensive Care for MS 
  • Role of MRI in MS Diagnosis and Treatment                        
  • Exercise and MS
  • Cognition in MS            &nb...

Free Pilates Class at the Multiple Sclerosis Center begins Nov. 14

November 04, 2014
Pilates is a system of gentle exercises that stretch, tone, and lengthen the muscles. This class is designed to improve posture, flexibility, balance, and core strength.
This class, beginning Friday Novemer 14, 2014, is appropriate for all mobility levels and those new to Pilates. Wheelchairs are welcome. Family members, caregivers, and friends are welcome to ...

October Pet of the Month at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

October 23, 2014

Name:   Bootsy

Age: 6 years old

Born: Bootsy was ...

7 benefits of eating together as a family

October 13, 2014
Regular family meals are good for children and for the family as a whole! Here's why:

1. Eating together encourages family togetherness
  • Positive family mealtimes help family members maintain relationships and feel a sense of belonging
  • When children can count on regular time with a parent or adults, they feel loved, safe and secure
  • Children set roots for a lifetime as they experience their family’s values and traditions

2. Eating together fosters happy, well-adjusted kids
  • Kids can feel accepted by their family and may not need to seek approval from the wrong crowd
  • Adolescents are less likely to be depressed and generally have a better self- esteem
  • Adolescents are less likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, illegal drugs or alcohol

3. Eating together helps kids do better in school
  • Listening to grownups at ...

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 4

October 11, 2014

Saturday October 11, 2014

Where shall I begin? I’ll just start chronologically.

At Monday’s morning report I learned that a newborn baby whom I observed being born by cesarean section had died about 18 hours after delivery. The cesarean section was done at 35w6d for placenta previa. The patient had presented with bleeding, the bleeding resolved, but the baby had intermittent episodes of fetal tachycardia. Given the concern for recurrent bleeding and the fetal tachycardia, the decision had been made to proceed with cesarean section. The cesarean section went well, and the baby was delivered screaming, with Apgars of 8 and 9. He was large, almost 4kg, and he looked full term. He was admitted to the neonatal ward for hypoglycemia. From the verbal report it sounds as if he was discovered “expired” while one of the pediatric residents was making routine rounds. There was no autopsy and the patient did not have a detailed fetal ultrasound during her pregnancy, so we have no idea if there was a cardiac defect or other malformation which contributed to the baby’s demise. Routine diabetes screening is not practiced here. A risk based approach is used to screen for diabetes. The patient had 8 other children, one of them had just graduated from nursing school and was at her bedside during her hospitalization. This was the patient’s first delivery in a hospital. I can’t help but think that this baby would have survived back home. Of course I don’t know that, but it is hard to comprehend a screaming and healthy appearing baby at delivery dying within a few hours.

A patient's experience with the Swedish Digestive Health Network

October 07, 2014

We recently received this post from a patient who asked us to share her story and her experiences with Dr. Schembre and Dr. Tschirhart with the Swedish Digestive Health Network. Thank you, Yevette, for sharing your story with us!


Dec 2nd, 2012 I was out of town doing some promotion for work when I collapsed in my hotel room. I went to the local hospital ER.  They found I had a gallstone lodged in my common bile duct. As they attempted to remove this, the surgeon ripped my intestine.  This created a whole host of life threatening problems. After 5 days I was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.  Dr. Tschirhart was assigned my case.  By June I was stable enough for surgery.  Dr. Schembre referred to this surgery as ...

Ready to blossom - Omega 13

October 05, 2014

This post is an excerpt from a workshop participant that I put on at the Omega Institute in 2013. We witnessed a remarkable turnaround in mood and pain in the course of just a week. Sharing seemed to be a major contributing factor to the success of the seminar.

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 3

October 04, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today was our first “normal” day. The kids went to school and I went to the hospital. Josh and Sonja already knew which classroom they were in, and we didn’t need to wait to be told to wait some more. I am beginning to note a behavior that has repeated itself several times. I am calling it, “Please sit down and wait.” It sounds nice, as if someone is going to take care of us, but sometimes doesn’t. For instance, yesterday I brought the kids to school, but I did not know which classroom they were assigned. So, I asked a teacher where 2nd and 6th grade children were supposed to go. He asked if we had been assigned a classroom yet, I told him I didn’t know. I had also been told last week that the school needed another official document stating Mark and I were working at the University of Gondar and our children could therefore attend the University community school. I had never been told if this paperwork had been completed. So, he showed us to the school director (the Principal). The director was very nice and asked us to please take a seat and wait. And so we did. After about 20 minutes I interrupted and asked if he could just tell me where the 2nd and 6th grade classrooms were. “Please have a seat, and I will be right with you.” Okay. Not wanting to upset the status quo, Josh, Sonja, and I had a seat and waited for 1 ½ hours. We met two other foreigner families, both Indian. They were waiting as well. However, one of them decided to go find the 4th grade class for her daughter by herself. She then came back to the office and said she had put her daughter in a class and would come back later to talk to the director. So, I followed suit. Josh, Sonja and I went out of the office and found some high school students who spoke English well and asked where the 2nd grade and 6th grade classrooms were. We then walked into those classrooms and introduced Josh and Sonja to the teachers and students.

New robotic system for catheter ablation of cardiac arrhythmias - Sterotaxis

October 01, 2014

Swedish recently completed a major upgrade to the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at Cherry Hill and is now the only hospital in Washington State with the Stereotaxis system.  This system is a remote navigation (robotic) system used for catheter ablation of cardiac arrhythmias. In contrast to conventional ablation catheters which are steered by the physician using pull wires in the catheter and manual advancement and retraction, the Stereotaxis system accomplishes this hands-free using large external magnets and a small drive motor located at the hub of the introducer sheath in the groin. The ablation catheters are extremely flexible and themselves have small magnets allowing the direction of the catheter to be manipulated by changing the externally applied magnetic field. Steering of the catheter can therefore be done remotely. The position of the catheter within the heart is followed real-time using a non-fluoroscopic 3D mapping system which can be used to create both anatomic geometry and cardiac electrical activation maps.

Treating cardiac arrhythmias with catheter ablation

September 30, 2014

Cardiac catheter ablation is an invasive procedure done to treat abnormal rapid or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Ablation can be used to treat both supraventricular arrhythmias coming from the upper chambers of the heart (atria) including paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), atrial flutter, and atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmias coming from the lower chambers (ventricles).

Different types of catheter ablation for cardiac arrhythmias

“Ablation” refers to localized destruction of tissue, so the area that is being ablated needs to be carefully targeted and the ablation closely controlled. The precise areas targeted for ablation depend on the type of arrhythmia, which sometimes is known before the procedure, but often needs to be clarified or confirmed invasively during the procedure. That being said, not all tachycardias are amenable to ablation or even require treatment, but when non-drug treatment of appropriate tachycardias is appropriate, catheter ablation can be an excellent option.

Just Keep Moving: Carolyn Phelps completes Ironman 70.3 in Lake Stevens

September 25, 2014

A dedicated eighth grade math teacher, wife, and mother of two, Carolyn Phelps did not exactly have the schedule to accommodate triathlon training. But after persuasion from her triathlete neighbor, Carolyn embarked on a year of intense training in order to compete in the Half Ironman in Lake Stevens, Washington this past month. Diagnosed with MS two years earlier, Carolyn made the decision to "keep moving." Competing in an Ironman event was not on her list of things to do a couple of years ago, but with her new diagnosis, she made her mind up to just move. "I don't want it to pass me by," she said. "We want to set a positive example for our children. This was a lifestyle decision, not an event," she explained.

Carolyn is the first to say she never could have succeeded without her family's support. Long runs and late night swims at the loca...

Medical mission in Ethiopia - week 2

September 22, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

We have been in Gondar 5 days now. Honestly, the first day here, I cried. I wondered what we were doing thinking we could live in a developing country for a school year. We are fortunate to be experiencing this as a family, as the necessary hugs to persevere are readily available. It has been interesting to me that the family seems to decompensate in a serial fashion. The other three support the decompensated one until they can function again, and then life is okay for a time, until someone else crumbles. So far all four of us have gone through some difficult emotional times. Food and sleep definitely help. Everyone has slept through the night for two nights now, and the emotional break downs are more sporadic.

I have had a difficult time getting used to so many people asking for money, touching me, shaking my hand and yelling “hello!!!” from across the street. Josh seems to have handled this the best, returning the “hellos” and handshakes. But today even he said that it is exhausting. “I’m just another human being, can’t they see that?” He also reflected that in the U.S., “it’s just not right to surround people, and if you do get surrounded, it’s dangerous.” We recognize that it is not dangerous here. But we are a spectacle, especially the kids. I think people are used to seeing white adult tourists, NGO workers, and some hospital or university faculty, but white children with red and blond hair? Last night our quiet courtyard (and attached reception hall) was rented out for a wedding. Josh and Sonja had been playing soccer (futball) in the courtyard when the wedding party just showed up. Soon, about 15-20 young men who had come to the wedding were playing futball with Josh. Sonja wisely escaped and found the musician playing the local ukulele instrument, but Josh hung in there. The game became quite lively and physical with lots of fancy footwork and exuberant vocalizations. Many of the young men took selfies with Josh, and by the end he had shaken many hands. Perhaps it is a cross cultural phenomenon that young men would rather play a futball game than attend a wedding reception.

Gray Matter Myelin Loss Linked to Severity of Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

September 22, 2014

In a recent collaborative study completed by the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin, doctors discovered through a more refined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) process, the amount of myelin lost in the gray matter of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients’ brains may indicate a more severe form of the disease.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has long ...

Medical mission to Ethiopia - week 1

September 19, 2014

September 13-14, 2014

Today we fly to Ethiopia. It has been several months in the planning, almost a year really. Although my initial announcement of my family’s plans was met with some hesitation, the recent outpouring of support has truly been overwhelming. My Swedish family is extraordinary. Patients, staff and colleagues have wished us well. Our Swedish OB/GYN Issaquah (SOGI) group has been through some challenges these last three years, many related to astronomical growth. But today, as I head to the other side of the world, I can look back and see that some of those challenges have made SOGI an incredibly strong and awesome practice. This is probably the best “well wishes” gift I could have received, to leave a practice that is doing well. This practice we have worked so hard to build is positively solid. And I feel that I am bringing some of that strength with me. At our annual clinic picnic I said that I could not do this trip without them, and that I feel I am bringing a piece of everyone with me. I believe that.

This morning we will land in Addis Ababa. We head to a small clinic about one hour from the center of the city. Blue Nile Children’s Organization (BNCO) serves a very poor area of Addis. We will stay there for a few days. BNCO is starting “Delivery Services” this year, which is Ethiopian for midwifery care. The sign actually says “Deliviery Services,” but it’s doubtful many people will notice a little detail like an extra “I.” Hmmmm. I know a little something about starting “delivery services.” In fact, the nurses and docs at First Hill L&D all have fleeces that say “We Deliver.” It’s the other side of the world, but we are all still people, working together to make something happen.

Considering breast augmentation?

September 10, 2014

Today’s blog post will cover some of the basic questions that many women I meet have about their breast augmentation operation.

Dr. James Bowen to speak about Multiple Sclerosis at Tacoma Science Cafe

September 06, 2014

Join us for a talk and casual discussion at the next Tacoma Science Cafe.
Speaker:          Dr. James Bowen, M.D., MS Center Neurologist and Medical Director
Talk:                Multiple Sclerosis in the Pacific Northwest
Date:               Tuesday, September 9
Time:               6:30 p.m.
Location ....

Multiple Sclerosis Center Summer BBQ presented by Young Adults with MS Support Group

September 03, 2014

On August 23 the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center hosted a summer barbeque in honor of the Young Adults with MS Support Group. With nearly 140 patients, family members, friends, and MS Center staff in attendance, the luncheon occupied the clinic’s lounge, wellness studio, and exterior terrace. Speeches were given by Dr. James Bowen, Medical Director and Neurologist at the MS Center as well as members of the Young Adults with MS Support Group. Patients and visitors had the opportunity to socialize and connect with others in the MS community while enjoying appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, and dessert.


Pain rules the roost

August 31, 2014

It is clear that family members of patients suffering from chronic pain are hesitant to engage in strategies that will be of benefit to my patient. Why?

Multiple Sclerosis Center August Pet of the Month

August 26, 2014

Meet Reggie - this two year old English Springer Spaniel loves visiting retirement homes and sporting hats and bow ties. Reggie may be the most dapper canine around as he enjoys showing off his attire and meeting new people. Found as a stray in Oregon, Reggie was rescued and placed in a shelter for ten days. Matted, disheveled, and smelly, Reggie waited but no one came to claim him. Soon after, English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) was called and he was adopted by his (now) best friend, Jackie Harrison. Jackie has trained Reggie to be her service dog while making him the best dressed dog in town. Reggie was Jackie's 14th foster dog through English Springer Rescue America.
Reggie in his patriotic attire at last year's 4th of July parade on Bainbridge Island 0 comment(s)|Read More

5th Annual Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show

August 16, 2014
With over eighty art work submissions this year, the 5th annual Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show was, again, a great success. Held at the Seattle Center Armory this past weekend, the exhibit showcased art work created by MS patients, family, friends, and members of the community affected by the disease. This event is held each year to provide community and regional awareness about MS and to provide an opportunity for those affected to express themselves through art. Displayed on white walls and under glass vitrines, artists showcased paintings, collages, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, textiles, poetry, graphics, and photography among other multi-media compositions. As always, the show is free and art work is welcomed from all individuals of all ability levels in the Pacific Northwest. Part...

Swedish MS Center Summer BBQ

August 14, 2014
Please join us for the Swedish MS Center Summer BBQ, presented and hosted by the Young Adults MS Support Group and including a talk by Dr. James Bowen, Swedish MS Center Neurologist and Medical Director.

When: Saturday, August 23rd, Noon-5 p.m.

Where: Swedish MS Center
1600 E. Jefferson Street, Level A
Seattle, WA 98122

Bike the US for MS donates $20,000 to Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

August 12, 2014

Cyclists participating in Bike the US for MS arrived at the Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard, Washington last Monday, some having travelled all the way from Bar Harbor, Maine. There to greet the cyclists was Dr. James Bowen, Swedish Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center Neurologist and Medical Director. To date, the bike tour has contributed $80,000 to the Swedish MS Center helping ensure that patients in the Pacific Northwest have access to vital MS services today as well as into the future.

Bike the US for MS is ...

Juvederm Voluma facial fillers help rejuvenate the face

August 08, 2014

Juvederm Voluma is a new filler that can help add volume to the face, achieving a non-invasive rejuvenating effect.

PALB2 gene mutation & breast cancer: What it means for you

August 07, 2014

PALB2 is a gene that was first linked to hereditary breast cancer risk back in 2007. Today’s Seattle Times reports on a recent study about PALB2 that was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, the largest to date, detailed the breast cancer risks faced by women – and to a lesser extent, men – who carry a mutation in their PALB2 gene. The breast cancer risks were several times greater than the ~12% risk faced by all women, and varied with the woman’s age and family history. Currently, there is no consistent evidence to suggest that men or women who carry a single PALB2 gene mutation are at greater risks of developing ovarian or other cancers.

PALB2 genetic testing can provide very important information that can help women and their families better understand and reduce their risks of developing breast cancer. However, even among women with a very strong personal or family history of breast cancer, very few will test positive. Studies suggest that only about 1-3% of high risk women will carry a PALB2 mutation. In my personal experience, I have tested about 300 high risk women for PALB2 mutations, and have yet to find a single mutation carrier.

Treating tennis elbow with platelet rich plasma

July 21, 2014

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is concentrated blood plasma containing a large amount of platelets. This concentrate, which is derived from your whole blood, is rich in growth factors that help heal injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and even cartilage. PRP is injected into the affected region to stimulate and enhance healing. Unlike cortisone injections, PRP helps heal the injured tissue and improve its function. One of the most common areas of treatment with PRP is tennis elbow.

Recently, a large study on PRP for tennis elbow was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.  They found success rates for patients with 24 weeks of follow-up were 83.9% in the PRP group compared with 68.3% in the control group. No significant complications occurred in either group.

Mesothelioma update: shorter course of treatment and improved survival rates?

July 07, 2014

There have been some very exciting recent developments we (the Thoracic Surgery team at Swedish Cancer Institute) are utilizing in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Over the past year we have offered some of our patients deemed appropriate for surgery a more streamlined approach to their overall care. Previously we have tried to offer chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation to all patients who were healthy and strong enough to undergo the three treatments, as mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer requiring aggressive treatment to optimize survival. This new approach still offers both surgery and radiation, but chemotherapy is given only to those found to have cancer in lymph nodes in the center of chest during surgery.

Supporting patients with Parkinson's Disease

June 02, 2014
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.

What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

May 21, 2014

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic (i.e. long-lasting) inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal system. IBD is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because of their similar acronyms, but the two conditions are not related. IBD affects approximately 1.4 million Americans and is most commonly diagnosed between 15-40 years of age.

IBD can be categorized into ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Though there are clear differences between the two, they are closely related and sometimes difficult to distinguish.

Ulcerative colitis is a condition where inflammation affects the most superficial layer of the large intestine (colon). It typically starts at the rectum and can involve a varying amount of the colon. In contrast, the inflammation of Crohn’s disease can affect all layers of the intestine and can involve any area of the gastrointestinal tract – from the mouth to the anus. The type of inflammation seen in Crohn’s disease may lead to long-term complications such as strictures or fistulas (abnormal connections to other organs) that are typically not seen in ulcerative colitis.

Summer 2014 Cancer Community Walks & Runs

May 19, 2014

Each year, the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) partners with local and national organizations in an effort to help spread awareness of cancer, associated treatments, and resources available in our communities.

Summer 2014 is no different. We’ve signed on to take part in more events than ever before—and we want you to join us! As an active patient, survivor, family member, friend or advocate, your voice and participation matter.

American Cancer Society Relay for Life

These overnight community fundraising walks help raise money to fund cancer research, education, and support services like Hope Lodge®, Road to Recovery®, Look Good, Feel Better®, and Reach to Recovery®, all American Cancer Society-run programs. The Swedish Cancer Institute patients gain access to these programs throughout the Swedish network. There are several Relay for Life events going on in the Puget Sound. The Swedish Cancer Institute is taking part in:

New products available for allergy treatment

May 14, 2014

For those with seasonal allergies, treatment can be as simple as an over-the-counter medication, but often requires more. The good news is that there are a lot of options now. Some new products have been recently approved by the FDA to help individuals who are dealing with grass and ragweed allergies.

The treatment of nasal and eye symptoms from allergies includes antihistamines, nasal sprays and allergy shots. Over the counter antihistamines include diphenhydramine (ex. Benadryl), loratadine (ex. Claritin), cetirizine (ex. Zyrtec), or fexofenadine (ex. Allegra). Over the counter allergy eye drops are also available, such as ketotifen (ex.Zaditor). Together, these help with itchy, sneezy, watery nose and eyes. Nasal antihistamines are prescription and also help with these symptoms. Nasal steroids help decrease congestion and postnasal drip.

Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)

May 05, 2014

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) occurs when a weak area in the aorta (the major blood vessel that sends blood through the body) dilates and quietly expands. The dilated area can rupture or leak. Often AAA is only discovered when it appears on an X-ray taken for some other reason – or when it ruptures.

AAA is the third leading cause of death in men ages 60 and older. Nearly 90 percent of the time, a ruptured AAA causes death, so it is important to discover and treat it early.

Risk factors include:

Facts and myths about antioxidants and cancer

May 02, 2014

Some of the most popular misconceptions surrounding cancer, cancer prevention and cancer treatment are about the role of antioxidants. Like many of the popular myths about cancer, there are facts, half-facts and outright falsehoods.

Fact: Damage to genes, particularly those involved in the regulation of cell division and cell death, is the key event in the development of cancer.

Fact: Oxidants are substances, most often generated by our own body, that cause damage to chemicals, including the DNA that makes up our genes, by oxidizing them. The oxidation reaction most familiar to us is when metal rusts.

Fact: Our bodies’ oxidants can contribute to cancer.

Half-fact: Antioxidants are chemicals we ingest that then run around neutralizing oxidants, rendering them powerless to promote cancer. The so-called antioxidant vitamins, of which vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene are the most well known are more properly called redox agents. In a particular environment, they prevent or reverse oxidation, called reduction. But they may change the acidity or even just the concentrations of the components of the reaction, and they may facilitate just the opposite. For example, vitamin C in a patient with normal iron levels is an antioxidant. But take a patient who has been transfused over and over to the point of iron overload, and vitamin C becomes a pro-oxidant and high doses can precipitate heart failure from oxidation.

Connect with the moment - active meditation

April 27, 2014

Chronic pain is associated with anxiety and frustration. Consquently, your mind will continue to be filled with racing thoughts regardless of your attempts to slow them down. Shifting off of these pathways with simple mindfulness tools is an effective and necessary strategy.

Why aren't my bowel habits normal?

April 21, 2014

Do you have irregular, uncomfortable, or distressing bowel habits? Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal condition affecting an estimated 15% of the general population. It is most common among women aged 30 to 49 years old.

IBS is a chronic condition of the digestive system that is not generally associated with more concerning findings of anemia, weight loss, family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or celiac disease. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal discomfort, constipation and diarrhea. Despite extensive research, no common cause of IBS has been identified. Some theories include:

"MS is BS" merchandise to raise money for MS research

April 17, 2014

Multiple sclerosis is BS: 'butt sitting, beaten soon, blind siding, big suckfest, beyond scary, body shaking, bourbon soothed'. “MS is BS” is the slogan for a line of t-shirts and other merchandise created by Ed Johnson, whose sole intention is to find humor and self-expression within a very bleak space.

Diagnosed in 2006 with Progressive MS, Ed went from being an active volleyball coach for over 20 years to living life in a wheelchair –in less than 12 months.  While the disease took away his livelihood and ability to walk, he didn’t lose his sense of humor.  It is his unabashed wit that inspired the “MS is BS” campaign.

Ed chose “MS is BS” because “I had seen it before but I just wanted to change it around. I think that it’s a catchy phrase. I have been saying ‘MS is BS’ for years and then I just kind of expanded on it.”

Most people diagnosed with MS experience fee...

How we do recycling at Swedish Ballard

April 16, 2014

Did you know that the health care industry in the United States is the second largest producer of waste sent to the landfill?

Swedish works to improve our efforts each year by reducing waste and increasing recycling and composting. The Ballard campus had a recycling rate of 59% in 2013, one of the highest recycling rates in the country. The industry average is 36%. This campus composted 132,480 pounds of yard and food waste, and recycled 77,300 pounds of comingled materials. We accomplish this by the combined efforts of employees, patients and guests.

How do we do this?

Why a career in medicine

April 15, 2014

My great grandfather graduated from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1901. My grandfather would have followed suit, but for the Great Depression. My father finished his MD at the University of Louisville in 1961, and my turn came at the University of Oregon Medical School in 1981.

I think I can say a few things about medicine. First, it’s never been easy to be a doctor taking care of real people. My great grandfather set up practice in Appalachia, far from any urban center, and using ether and the most crude of instruments, set about bringing the beginnings of the surgical era to backwoods Kentucky. He carried a pistol to defend himself from angry family members if things got out of hand.

Second, the rate of change induced by scientific discovery, is far from slowing, and in fact, seems to be accelerating. My father’s career in particular, spanning the era of specialization, witnessed the fruits of research from the National Institutes of Health in the first decades after World War 2. Broad scientific developments drove the discovery of hundreds of new medicines and the specialists who could understand and prescribe them. Lifespans have lengthened so fast as a result that we have become numb to the amazing demographic shifts happening before our eyes. In 1950, America was home to 2300 people 100 years or older. In 2050, a bare century later, America will shelter up to 4.2 million of that age, a rise of 180,000%!

Pain, anger, and love

April 14, 2014

A high percent of my patients have no interest in giving up their pain. Being a victim is a powerful role – and for many is synonymous with love.

Some of the reasons to remain angry are:

  • It is a familiar pattern
  • It effectively covers up feelings of anxiety
  • You can use it to manipulate those around you
  • Expectations are lowered – of you and others

Living our legacy

April 11, 2014

I officially joined Swedish as chief executive in November 2013. One of the many things that drew me to Swedish was its powerful legacy of innovation, care quality, and its focus on serving every member of our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.

Today, this legacy lives on through our team of dedicated caregivers, our leadership and our community partners. We challenge ourselves to think beyond the status quo to find the best outcomes for our patients.

It is an incredibly exciting time here at Swedish. During a period of unprecedented changes in the health care industry, I am proud to tell you that Swedish is stronger now than ever. Just a few years ago, our institution was stabilizing following significant financial challenges. Today, we are strongly positioned to continue delivering high quality, accessible care to the communities of Western Washington.

One of our most effective strategies for improving the health and well-being of those we serve is our affiliation with Providence Health & Services. I continue to hear questions about how the affiliation benefits Swedish and I want to provide you with specific examples of how the affiliation has strengthened our ability to serve more people across our communities, regardless of their ability to pay.

Is it ok to laugh with cancer?

March 03, 2014

“Is it okay to laugh?”

The question caught me off guard for a moment, then its meaning sunk in. She was really saying, “Cancer is serious stuff, my breast has been cut on and radiated, and you’ve given me cancer fighting poisons in my veins. My hair has fallen out, food tastes funny, and I’m on a first name basis with the muzak at my insurance company. I’ve done my crying, but is it appropriate to laugh at it all?”

I remembered back to an intimidating nurse critiquing a tape of my very first patient interview during my second month of medical school. Her eyes were sharp and piercing and her brow furrowed as she watched the tape. Half way through she stopped it, turned it off, and said, “You are flippant…. I don’t much care for it.” My heart sank, and then she continued without a smile, but with a twinkle in her eyes, “but it works for you, so don’t mind me and keep on doing it.”

What you should know about multiple myeloma

February 25, 2014

Recent news about the health of the distinguished journalist, Tom Brokaw, has focused attention on multiple myeloma, a malignant disease of the bone marrow. Myeloma is characterized by an uncontrolled growth of marrow plasma cells, which normally produce antibodies for our immune system. In its advanced stages, the overgrowth of these cells and their associated proteins can cause anemia, painful bone destruction, and kidney failure.

Until about 10 years ago, advanced myeloma was uniformly fatal with a typical survival of about 3 years. Recent years, however, have seen a remarkable improvement in treatment possibilities for myeloma. This began with the discovery that autologous stem cell transplantation could produce complete remissions and longer survival. In addition, a variety of chemotherapy drugs administered in combination with corticosteroid drugs, now produce responses in up to 80% of patients. This means about 80% of patients are surviving longer than 3 years after chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant.

When stress takes a toll on your heart

February 20, 2014

When you face danger, your body’s built-in alarm system triggers the production of adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin makes your heart beat faster and cortisol produces sugar to help you physically and mentally react. Your body returns to normal when the danger is over.

Unlike cavemen, barbarians and knights, we don’t face extreme danger very often. Unfortunately, every-day stress also triggers your alarm system.

Work. Commute. Kids. Relatives. Friends. Death of a loved one. Money. Everything in life can cause stress.

Stress takes a toll on your body — including your heart. Because stress can linger, your body continues to produce extra adrenalin and cortisol.

When your body’s alarm system doesn’t turn off, you may eat more, exercise less, lose sleep, argue more, forget things, get depressed, or smoke or drink more than usual. These things put an added burden on your heart and increase your risk of heart disease. Recent studies have shown that laughter and positive thinking promote heart health, while anger and job stress can increase the risk of heart attacks.

Here are some tips to protect your heart from stress:

4 alternatives to a hysterectomy

February 19, 2014

There are many reasons women need a hysterectomy.

Some of the most common are:

  • Heavy periods that are not controlled on hormones or an inability to take hormones to control the period.
  • Large fibroids that press on the bladder or the bowel, or are so large they can be felt on the abdomen.
  • Endometriosis (usually if this is requiring a hysterectomy it is due to both pain and bleeding).

There are several treatments to avoid hysterectomy:

  • Uterine artery embolization where microscopic plastic beads are inserted into the uterine arteries to block the majority of blood flow to the uterus. This causes the uterus to slowly shrink in size. The uterus may decrease to half of its normal size within 2-3 years. Initially there is a lot of inflammation of the uterus as it loses its blood supply. The pain associated with this will usually require ibuprofen and narcotics. Most women stay in the hospital for overnight, and it is usually about 2 weeks before you are feeling well enough to resume normal activities.

What to do for a sudden change in your hearing

February 17, 2014

Sudden hearing loss is a condition that warrants you seeking medical management immediately.  If you notice a drastic change in your hearing, don’t assume its wax or fluid in your ear. It could be wax or fluid but it also may be a sudden hearing loss; either way you will likely benefit from medical treatment.

Sudden changes in hearing can happen overnight or over a few days and can be accompanied by loud ringing in the ear (tinnitus), dizziness/vertigo and/or fullness or pressure in the same ear.  They typically will occur in one ear and in very rare cases will occur on both sides.

The National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports the incidence of sudden sensorineural hearing loss at approximately 4,000 new cases a year.  Sensorineural is a term used to denote hearing loss that occurs at the cochlea, the organ for hearing.

There are many causes of sudden hearing loss but it is quite uncommon to know exactly what caused the change in hearing. The patient’s medical history may offer clues. Good air and blood flow are paramount to healthy cochlear function and a change in hearing can occur due to the deprivation of either of these influences or it can be related other problems such as a virus that attacks the ear.

Are you at risk for heart disease?

February 15, 2014

About half of all Americans have at least one of the three main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Other risk factors include diabetes, overweight/obesity, poor diet, inactivity, alcohol use and family history.

More people die from heart disease than any other medical condition. Controlling these risk factors is the most effective method of prevention.

What is your risk for heart disease? Find out by taking a free online Heart Risk Test.

If you need care, we have a team of cardiologists who can evaluate your risk, show you how to reduce that risk, and help you take the first steps to a healthy future.

Five tips for finding a cardiologist:

  1. Convenience. Care close to home or work makes life easier. Swedish has more than 35 cardiologists in 20 locations throughout the Greater Puget Sound area.

Pivotal time for chronic hepatitis C treatment

February 10, 2014

An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the US are chronically infected with hepatitis C.* Patients are often diagnosed incidentally, when they donate blood, get life insurance or get a routine physical exam with blood tests showing normal or abnormal liver enzymes. They may have been diagnosed many years ago with non-A, non-B hepatitis, but forgot about it, never followed up, or did not mention it to their regular health care provider. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued additional recommendations to start screening “Baby Boomers,” those born between 1945-1965. Though Baby Boomers account for 3.25% of the US population, they account for 3/4 of the hepatitis C infections.*

Patients may have seen a health care provider in the past and told that there is no treatment, that treatments were not effective, or not worthwhile due to side effects. Patients have been reluctant to seek treatment because they have heard about the terrible side effects associated with treatment, including flu-like symptoms, fatigue, depression, muscle aches, rashes, etc, lasting up to a year.

Treating and preventing common sports injuries

January 29, 2014

Looking to be more active in 2014? Have you been waiting all year to enjoy winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding?

There are a few common injuries that often get my patients down when they are on the go. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you prevent these common injuries and determine the best treatment options should you need it.


The most common injuries in the wrist and ankle are sprains and fractures. Throwing, twisting, weight-bearing, and impact can put you at risk for a wrist injury. Ankle sprains and fractures are typically caused by making a fast, shifting movement with your foot planted on the ground.

In most cases, I recommend the RICE approach: rest for around 48 hours; ice the injured area to reduce swelling (use a pack wrapped in a towel); compress with an elastic ACE wrap; and elevate the injury above heart level.

However, if you experience these symptoms, contact your provider for further evaluation.

Why pregnant women should receive flu vaccine and pertussis booster

January 15, 2014

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.

Getting healthy for pregnancy

January 14, 2014

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.

Troubles swallowing food or liquids - what does it mean?

January 13, 2014

Dysphagia refers to the sensation of food or liquid being delayed or hindered from the mouth to the stomach. This abnormality is increasingly recognized as an important concern that requires attention and study. There are many causes of impaired swallowing, which are categorized into two types, mechanical, a structural barrier to food bolus movement, and motility disorders, involving abnormal muscle movement. There are also two major anatomical sites, oropharyngeal and esophageal.

Oropharyngeal dysphagia is related to problems with the initiation of the swallows and clearing the food bolus from the mouth to the esophagus. This usually occurs within a second of swallowing and you may feel that you cannot initiate a swallow or food hangs up in the neck region. A test that is commonly used to evaluate this is a modified barium swallow or videofluoroscopic swallowing study. This study provides critical information on inability or excessive delay in initiation of swallowing, unintentional inhalation of food, unintentional expulsion of food from the nose or mouth, and/or abnormal retention of food in the back of the throat after swallowing. Most oropharyngeal dysphagia patients benefit from swallow rehabilitation programs.

Why do some people play their music so loud?

January 06, 2014

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 that we have hearing loss. We are not able to hear soft sounds as well as we once did because these cells are not able to perform their amplification function. But paradoxically, we may also be more disturbed by loud sound. The hair cells are not able to damp, or attenuate, loud sounds.

Resolve to give the gift of comfort and warmth all year long

January 01, 2014

The holiday season is the perfect time to give back to the ones we love, our community, and those who have yet to enter our lives. For many of us, small, simple acts of kindness are easiest to introduce in our efforts to give back, especially when we are busy getting back to work or school in the new year. Thankfully, giving back doesn’t mean you have to give up a huge amount of your time!

One unique way to make a huge impact in our community is by using your hands, heart, and brain, together—to knit! The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) has been lucky enough to have the support of community members near and far who have donated thousands of knitted hats for patients undergoing cancer treatment. These donations come at prime time during the holiday season but act as gifts all year long!

During chemotherapy, many patients experience hair loss, resulting in low self-confidence, heightened sensitivity to fabric and weather conditions, and with high prices of medical care, patients often face limited flexible income to purchase headwear.

More tips for feeding picky eaters

October 20, 2013

In my last post, I shared a few tips about what to expect and how to help encourage your child to eat more. Here are some more tips to help your child eat more variety of foods, including more vegetables:

How can I get my child to eat more variety?

  • Offer a "nibble tray". At snack time, fill a muffin tin or ice cube tray with bite-sized portions of colorful, nutritious foods. Try cooked macaroni, cheese cubes, kidney beans, grape halves, broccoli florets, ready-to- eat cereal, and canned pineapple tidbits.
  • Let children cook. Your child is more likely to eat what he has helped to make.
  • Children can help wash vegetables, tear up lettuce, scrub potatoes, or stir batter.
  • Be playful. Call these finger foods playful names that a two-year-old can appreciate, such as: apple moons (thinly sliced), avocado bo...

Tips for reducing hot flashes for women with breast cancer

October 05, 2013

Hot flashes are the most common complaint from women going through menopause. And for women who are breast cancer patients, the problem is often more acute. Surgery, chemotherapy and estrogen blocking medications can bring on hot flashes or make them worse if you already have them. And for women who must discontinue hormone replacement therapy, the instant onset of hot flashes and night sweats can severely impact quality of life.

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can easily and safely employ to decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Everything I recommend here is non-estrogenic so while it is generally safe for breast cancer patients and survivors, you should always check with your oncologist before trying any new supplement.

First, a few notes on diet. I recently had a patient who stopped eating refined sugars for general health reasons, and her hot flashes nearly disappeared. Your mileage may vary on this one but there are c...

Feeding Tips for Picky Eaters

October 04, 2013

It is important that children develop healthy eating habits early in life. Here are some ways to help your child eat well and to make meal times easier.

What to Expect:

  • After the first year of life, growth slows down, and your child's appetite may change.
  • It's normal for your child to eat more on some days and very little on other days.
  • A child may refuse to eat in order to have some control in his life.
  • A child may be happy to sit at the table for 15 to 20 minutes and no longer.
  • A child may want to eat the same food over and over again.

How can I encourage my child to eat more?

  • Set regular meal and snack times. Avoid feeding your child in between these times, so that they are hungry at meal and snack times. If you want your child to eat dinner at the same time you do, try to time his snack-meals so that they are at least two hours before dinner.
  • Limit juice and ...

New MS therapy approved by the European Commission

October 03, 2013

On September 17, the European Commission, the European equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved the release of alemtuzumab (Lemtrada™.)

Alemtuzumab is an intravenous monoclonal antibody that selectively reduces circulating T lymphocytes, which are thought to be involved in inflammation in multiple sclerosis (MS). This reduction is followed by repopulation of T and B cells over time. It is administered on five consecutive days in the first year of therapy, followed by three consecutive days 12 months later.

Swedish Neuroscience Institute was involved in Care-MS II, one of the pivotal Phase III studies in which MS patients who had relapsed on other therapies were randomized to either alemtuzumab or interferon beta-1a. The drug was found to be significantly ...

Advocating for Your Child with Hearing Loss in the Classroom

October 02, 2013

By now, the new school year is in full swing.  And while it might have started with newly made memories of a great summer, it may also bring new challenges—a new classroom, a new teacher, a new setting.  All parents want the same thing for their children—to be safe, healthy, happy and successful.  But the latter can be more challenging in the educational setting for children with hearing loss of any level.  So, as a parent, how do you ensure that your child with hearing loss succeeds in the classroom?

  1. Understand the impact of hearing loss on learning, and how to manipulate the classroom on your child’s behalf.  Hearing loss, even a minimal degree, can have a significant impact on learning.  Request preferential seating for your child.  Sitting closer to the teacher will help improve the signal-to-noise ratio (or how loud the teacher’s voice is relative to background noises).  This will help make listening and learning...

Team Swedish Bikes for Multiple Sclerosis

October 01, 2013

The Swedish S’myelin Babes, Swedish’s Bike MS team, raised more than $46,000 this year. The annual event raises funds for multiple sclerosis research and local programs to support people living with the disease.

Check out a few photos captured by Dr. Lily JungHenson from this year’s event:

Amazing Race host and multiple sclerosis advocate Phil Koeghan visits Swedish

September 13, 2013


The Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish had a unique visitor last week: Phil Koeghan, host of the Amazing Race (or road warrior for FOX Breakfast Time if you were a mid-90s morning talk show fan).

Phil and his wife, Louise, came by for a tour Friday afternoon and met with some of the Swedish MS Center staff. They were visiting Seattle with their professional bike team to participate in the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s local Bike MS event.

Phil’s team rode Saturday among 135 other teams and individual cyclists, including the Swedish S’Myelin Babes. Sw...

Free relaxation & stress reduction classes for multiple sclerosis

August 22, 2013

Stress is something we all experience. At work, home and in relationships—life is a balancing act. For people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), stress can also come from managing major transitions and other emotional changes.

How we respond to stress that determines how it affects our lives. Luckily, we have some control. Learned relaxation techniques can help us manage how we respond to stress and lower its affects before we become overwhelmed ...

Swedish multiple sclerosis neurologists educate about MS with country artist Clay Walker

August 08, 2013

Neurologists from the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center spoke Tuesday evening in Seattle at an educational program featuring country music artist Clay Walker.

Drs. James Bowen and Lily JungHenson gave an update on advancements in multiple sclerosis research to about 200 patients and care partners living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Clay Walker shared his experience living with relapsing-remitting MS and how he manages his symptoms with a busy career.

Bike the US for MS riders donate $25,000 to the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center

August 06, 2013

The Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish welcomed 30 cyclists Sunday for the finale of their coast-to-coast ride for multiple sclerosis (MS). Cyclists and a crowd of supporters and loved ones continued the celebration inside where they presented the Swedish MS Center with a $25,000 donation.

The ride was extremely significant for one of the cyclists, Diane Mattens, who is also a patient at the Swedish MS Center. Diane has been living with multiple sclerosis for nearly three decades and is the first woman with MS to complete a Bike the US for MS tour...

Do injectable therapies benefit progressive forms of MS?

July 18, 2013

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recently published their Top Five Recommendations in the Choosing Wisely Campaign in promoting high value neurological care. This was done in collaboration with the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Consumer Reports to reduce ineffective and costly care.

One of the AAN’s recommendations was to stop prescribing interferon-beta and glatiramer acetate to people who have progressive, non-relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The AAN made clear that  the recommendations were intended to promote discussion between patients and their providers about the value of these therapies, not to completely stop the use of specific treatments.

The recommendation to stop prescribing 0 comment(s)|Read More

Heat Sensitivity and Multiple Sclerosis: Resources to help cool off MS symptoms

July 17, 2013

The summer months have arrived and the weather is warming up. While many sun-deprived residents of the Pacific Northwest are enjoying more sunshine, many people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather gets warmer.

Air conditioners, fans, and cooling products like vests and neck wraps can help keep the body cool and prevent or reverse the symptoms. But what if you can’t afford it, or think your income is too high to get financial assistance?

Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center artists share their stories for 4th annual art show

July 09, 2013

The Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show was this weekend at Seattle Center.

A couple of artists in this year’s show shared how art has made a difference in their life and their multiple sclerosis:

  • Darren Baker and his daughter, Sarah, have entered the show every year. Darren is a former electrical engineer who found art after his diagnosis in the late 90s. Art has taught both of them powerful lessons about what perfection really looks like.

    He and his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Sarah, shared their experiences and talked about their involvement in the Swedish MS Center Art Show. Watch their moving story in the video below. The entire family displayed ...

Treating Arteriovenous Malformations to Remove the Risk of Rupture

June 28, 2013

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the brain is a relatively rare condition – occurring in less that 1 percent of the population. It can, however, be neurologically morbid in young adults ages 15 to 20, who are at the greatest risk for hemorrhage and least likely to exhibit symptoms. About 2 to 4 percent of all AVMs each year hemorrhage.

An AVM’s tangled mass of blood vessels, which forms in utero, produces multiple direct connections between arteries and veins without the normal, intervening capillaries. Symptoms often are not present until later in life or until after the AVM ruptures.

A small number of congenital syndromes, such as Sturge-Weber, Rendu-Osler-Weber, ataxia telangiectasia, and Wyburn-Mason, are associated with AVMs. Once formed, extrinsic factors, such as arterial shunting, growth factors and intracranial hemorrhage, may alter the size and shape of an AVM.

The most common types of AVMs are:

Inspiration from the artists of the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show

June 17, 2013


We are just a few weeks shy of the 4th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Art Show. We are excited to share the talented submissions we have received at the Seattle Center Armory on July 6-7 and share how art has helped them.

Today we congratulated artists who collectively submitted more than 100 entries for display in this year’s show. Each person has a unique connection to multiple sclerosis (MS), either as a person who has been diagnosed, a family member or friend.

The annual Art Show is part of the Swedish MS Center's commitment to helping people thriv...

Protect your ears during summer fun and work

June 10, 2013

Summertime means that we residents of the beautiful Northwest will be outside as much as we possibly can.  There are two potential sources of damage to our ears which are of greater concern during the summer.

First, our ears are subject to sunburn.  Many of the hats we wear do not protect the ears from damaging exposure to sunlight.  Consider wearing a hat with a brim that extends completely around the head, rather than the baseball type hat which many of us wear.  Also, remember to apply sunscreen to the ears.  It is easy to forget them. 

Secondly, summertime means increased exposure to noise from yard maintenance tools or other power tools.  Injurious levels of noise are produced by almost every power saw, power sander, nail gun, weed eater, leaf blower, roto-tiller, power washer, and shop vac.  Ear plugs....

MS Research Update: Safety of oral MS medication with effective birth control

June 05, 2013

Teriflunomide (Aubagio) is a once daily oral disease modifying therapy approved for treating patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). One of the limitations of its use is its black box warning for potential fetal harm due to birth defects noted in rats and rabbits. Women who are of childbearing age who are not using reliable birth control are advised to not use teriflunomide.

At the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers annual meeting on May 30, I presented a poster describing 81 pregnancies in female patients and 20 pregnancies in partners of male patients in nine teriflunom...

Do you know the symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

June 01, 2013

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day demands and ignore changes in our health. It may not be wise, however, to dismiss those changes as symptoms of a hectic life. Blurred vision, dizziness or headaches that don’t get better can signal something serious.

Anywhere from 1 to 6 percent of Americans have a brain aneurysm but don’t know it. An aneurysm is a blister-like bulge on the wall of a blood vessel. It can go unnoticed for a long time. If it’s not treated, the pressure of the blood weakens the vessel, and the aneurysm grows like a balloon filling with air. If the aneurysm bursts, it causes a stroke.

An aneurysm can put pressure on nerves or tissue in the brain, which may cause:

  • Headache or neck pain
  • Vision problems, enlarged pupil, drooping eye lid
  • Numb face
  • Severe drowsiness

If you have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may ...

What is Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD)?

May 31, 2013

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is one of the more confounding and misunderstood conditions of the voice.  With this condition the vocal cords and supporting structures may be healthy but they are working too hard.  MTD is caused by the throat muscles being too tight and out of balance with the rest of the voice production system.  The person with MTD may feel that it takes more effort to talk and their voice gets worse the more they talk.  Many patients may feel a soreness of their neck, throat and often their shoulders. Sometimes MTD may develop in trying to compensate for a weak vocal fold or a vocal fold lesion.

MTD is characterized by the following:

  • Voice that sounds rough, hoarse, gravely, or raspy
  • Voice that sounds weak, breathy, airy, or is only a whisper
  • Voice that sounds strained, pressed, squeezed, tight, or tense
  • Voice that suddenly cuts out, breaks off, changes pitch, or fades away
  • Voice th...

Family Meals with Young Children

May 21, 2013

Many parents don’t realize how much eating meals together as a family helps their children’s development and well-being in addition to being known to reduce the risk of obesity and improve the nutrition of children. Eating meals together is a valuable lesson and practice in sharing. By eating the same foods, hearing about someone else’s day, and telling stories, kids learn to compromise and show respect. Sitting around the table with the family is a great setting for children to see how they are a part of something bigger than just themselves.

When you have young children, it is a key time to start eating meals as a family and develop this lifetime habit. Even babies old enough to sit in a high chair but not old enough to eat everything everyone else is eating will benefit from joining the family at the table.

Here are some tips to make mealtimes more pleasant with young ones:

4th Annual Multiple Sclerosis Art Show accepting entries

May 20, 2013


The Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center Art Show is accepting entries for its 4th annual exhibit. Art will be displayed July 6-7 at the Seattle Center Armory.

Who can enter?

The exhibit features art created by people who have been touched by multiple sclerosis (MS). Anyone with a connection to MS--whether diagnosed, family, caregiver, friend or colleague--is welcome and encouraged to enter. Read full guidelines.

What can I enter?

What is voice therapy and how does it work?

May 17, 2013

You have seen an otolaryngologist about a voice problem and have now been referred for voice therapy. And you may wonder - what in the world will that involve?  You might think, I already know how to talk! 

Voice production is complex. It involves many muscles, multiple systems, and the balance and coordination of these systems in order to produce a healthy voice. Often these muscles or systems can become tight, strained, or imbalanced.  This can either cause a voice problem, or result from a voice problem.  The system can also become imbalanced following voice strain; with a weak vocal fold or a vocal fold lesion; after a cold; or from other sources of throat irritation such as reflux.

Think about pulling a muscle in your back.  Over time, other muscles may become strained by trying to guard, protect or compensate for the initial muscle injury. Your throat is like that too, although many people don’t ...

BRCA Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

May 14, 2013

In today’s New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie bravely and openly discusses her experience with BRCA genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer:

The 37 year old Ms. Jolie – who has not had cancer – underwent genetic testing because of her family history of cancer. She was found to carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which puts her at significant risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Ms. Jolie, the mother of 3 adopted and 3 biological children, elected to undergo a risk-reducing double mastectomy, and plans to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed soon to lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ms. Jolie’s story opens a public conversation about  0 comment(s)|Read More

Seattle Channel highlights Swedish MS Center research

May 11, 2013

Thousands of people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) each year. The Pacific Northwest is home to more than 12,000 people living with the disease. Our area is also making great strides in research to find the cause and new treatments for MS.

The Seattle Channel featured a health special Thursday documenting the lives people affected by the disease and the progress area doctors and scientists are making. In the health special, the Seattle Channel highlights research at the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center that is advancing what we know and how docs treat the disease.

Watch the video for the full story, including an interview with Dr. James Bowen, a neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, and a look inside the MS Center at Swedish:


Dr. Bowen tackles mysteries of MS in Scientific American MIND

April 30, 2013

The last 20 years have held significant gains for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Thanks to new studies and a full pipeline of those to come, our understanding of the disease and promises for future remedies grows rapidly.

Dr. James Bowen, Medical Director and neurologist at the MS Center at Swedish, wrote an article on this progress n Scientific American MIND. "Solving the Mystery of MS" unpacks the history of MS treatments, from breakthrough treatments to rethinking the disease origin, and offers a comprehensive view of what we know now as well as what lays ahead.


Thank you to a wonderful group of volunteers

April 23, 2013

Throughout Swedish’s history, volunteers have played a major role in building and nurturing the atmosphere at Swedish that has made it a place where patients who come for advanced medical care also know they are among people who feel a compassionate concern for them and their families. For more than half a century, one very special group of volunteers has been instrumental in creating this patient-friendly environment: the Swedish Medical Center Auxiliary at First Hill.

This small group of volunteers is made up of eight dedicated board members and Swedish supporters, each of whom also donates an impressive amount of time and energy participating in voluntary activities at the First Hill campus. These activities range from patient reception, assistance, caring and support roles in the hospital to event participation and work in the gift shop.

From its beginnings--dating all the way back to the founding of Swedish Hospital--the Auxiliary has ...

Dizziness from loose crystals in your head

April 22, 2013

This sounds a bit like the punch line of a bad joke, doesn’t it? But believe it or not, it’s true.

Dizziness can be caused by loose crystals called “otoconia” in your inner ear, which is known as BPPV. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV, is the most common cause of vertigo, and is also the most common vestibular (inner ear) disorder. BPPV occurs when tiny calcium crystals are displaced from either one or both of the otolith organs of the inner ear and fall down into one of the semicircular canals, disrupting the flow of the fluid of that canal.

What results from that disruption of fluid is essentially a false sense of motion. People with BPPV will most often report experiencing short episodes of severe vertigo with change in head and/or body position, such as turning over in bed or getting up and out of bed, tilting their head back in the shower to wash their hair, or turning their head from side to side while driving. The onset of vertigo can be ver...

Misconceptions & Misunderstandings About Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancer: Don�t Test Me, Test My Family!

April 19, 2013

As a genetic counselor with 30 years of experience, I have met with many families who have been concerned about their hereditary risks to develop cancer and other disorders. I have found that the complexity of genetics can sometimes cause misunderstandings about some critical information.

A common question that patients ask is this: I already have cancer, it makes no sense for me to have genetic testing, so why don’t you test my family instead?

As it turns out, the best strategy for most families is to for genetic