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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day Is A Success, Provides A Wide Range Of Information

This year’s Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day was the largest and most successful yet, says event organizer Christine Rein. One hundred fifty participants attended the event, which was held Saturday, November 12, 2011 at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.

The program provided information about the pancreas and its function, genetics, risk stratification and screening, cancer-therapy breakthroughs, surgical options, cysts, pre-cancerous tumors and more.

Lecture topics included: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Total Artificial Heart Provides Time For Those Waiting For A Transplant

Yoshifumi Naka, MD, PhD

Yoshifumi Naka, MD, PhD

Total Artificial Heart Improves Patient Survival to Transplant While Reducing Some Risks of Transplant Surgery

Surgeons at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center performed the first Total Artificial Heart implant in the New York City area to replace a patient’s dying heart.

“For patients who will die without a heart transplant, the Total Artificial Heart helps them survive until they can get one. By replacing the heart, we are eliminating the symptoms and the source of heart failure,” said lead surgeon Dr. Yoshifumi Naka, director of Cardiac Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Programs at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia and associate professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Similar to a heart transplant, the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Study Hopes To Help Those Seeking Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Jeffrey A. Ascherman, MD, FACS

Jeffrey A. Ascherman, MD, FACS

After the jubilation of beating cancer, many women who seek breast reconstruction have another journey to complete. Before they can receive a permanent breast implant, they must first undergo a process to create the space to house the new implant – a process which can be uncomfortable at times and may take many months.

“Traditionally, women undergoing breast reconstruction have had to endure a long process of inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable saline injections every 2 to 3 weeks to create a pocket for the permanent implant following a mastectomy,” said Jeffrey Ascherman, MD, Site Chief, Division of Plastic Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. According to some women, this process can also involve a significant time burden, since they must visit their doctor’s office every few weeks for an average of four to six months.

Dr. Ascherman is now the first physician in the United States to be enrolling patients in a study of a new, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Difficulties In Donor Organ Allocation Given The Limited Supply

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH

The November 10, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine features an editorial by Robert S. Brown, Jr., MD, MPH, Director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, titled Transplantation for Alcoholic Hepatitis — Time to Rethink the 6-Month “Rule.”

In this editorial, Dr. Brown addresses the difficult questions surrounding how to fairly allocate donor organs, which are in far shorter supply than their demand. In the case of patients with alcoholic hepatitis, current guidelines exclude such patients from the liver transplant waiting list unless they have successfully abstained from alcohol for at least six months. Yet as Dr. Brown points out, many die before this required, albeit arbitrary, window elapses. And a new study indicates that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Woman Donates Part Of Liver To Her Fiancé

When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was “instant love,” she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn’t worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn’t affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven’s condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant.

Although Steven had severe liver disease and was experiencing painful symptoms such as ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), he would have had to become deathly ill in order to qualify for a donor organ from the transplant waiting list. For a couple with a wedding to plan and a bright future ahead, the prospect of Steven spending many months, if not years, in progressively worsening health was just not an option. For Megan, the choice was clear. She had known from the beginning that she would donate part of her liver to him if she could — and when testing Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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