Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Patient Remains On ECMO Machine For 13 Days And Survives

On September 21, 2008, 26-year old ML started feeling short of breath. It quickly got worse; she began to feel dizzy and started sweating profusely. Her family called an ambulance and she was rushed to NewYork Presbyterian’s The Allen Hospital, where her condition worsened. Her lungs were failing. Corey Ventetuolo, MD, her first pulmonologist, knew that ML needed to be transferred to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, but feared that she would die during the brief journey. Her family decided to take the risk.

ML did indeed flatline during the ambulance ride, but she did not die. Her survival despite severe lung failure is due Read more »

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

Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device Is Gaining Wider Use In The U.S.

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) are small pumps that take over the work of the heart in pumping the blood through the body. Patients who need a heart transplant, but for whom there is no donor heart available, might be given a VAD for what’s called a bridge-to-transplant while they wait for a donor.

PediMag, the pediatric version of the adult device, CentriMag, is an external device designed for short-term use in infants with heart failure. PediMag can also be used to support children after heart transplant surgery if they experience organ rejection and need time for their hearts to rest and heal, according to Jonathan M. Chen, MD, Surgical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplantation at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York. Dr. Chen has extensive experience treating children with heart failure and has recently authored an account of his first successful use of the PediMag as a biventricular bridge-to-transplant in an infant.

The PediMag ventricular assist device is Read more »

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

Doctors Use ECMO To Save A 19-Year-Old’s Life

Robert Loftus

Robert Loftus

On August 5, 2011,19-year-old Robert Loftus tripped while catching the game-winning touchdown pass in a football game with friends. He broke his leg — both his tibia and fibula — and was rushed to the ER at Hudson Valley Hospital Center. On the morning of the 6th, he was visited by his orthopedist, Dr. Steven Small, and surgery to place a rod in his broken leg was scheduled for 3 pm that day. Just as the operation was beginning, however, the anesthesiologist was alarmed to find that Robert’s lungs were dangerously filling with fluid. The surgery was called off, and while still in the OR, Robert was put on a mechanical ventilator.

Robert had developed a severe case of ARDS, or acute respiratory distress syndrome; his lungs were failing. After four days on the ventilator, Robert’s breathing was not improving; on the contrary, it was rapidly getting worse. Recognizing the severity of his patient’s condition, 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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »