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Latest Posts

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*

“Just In Case” Heart Tests: Can They Do More Harm Than Good?

Here’s an important equation that all of us — doctors include — should know about healthcare, but don’t:

More ≠ Better

“More does not equal better” applies to diagnostic procedures, screening tests meant to identify problems before they appear, medications, dietary supplements, and just about every aspect of medicine.

That scenario is spelled out in alarming detail in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Clinicians at the Cleveland Clinic describe the case of a 52-year-old woman who went to her community hospital because she had been having chest pain for two days. She wasn’t having symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath, unexplained nausea, or a cold sweat, and her electrocardiogram and other tests were fine. The woman’s doctors concluded that her chest pain was probably due to a muscle she had pulled or strained during her recently begun exercise program to lose weight.

To “reassure her” that she wasn’t having a heart attack, the emergency department team recommended she have a CT scan of her heart. This noninvasive procedure can spot narrowings in coronary arteries and other problems that can interfere with blood flow to the heart. When it showed a suspicious area in her left anterior descending artery (a key artery nourishing the heart), she underwent a coronary angiogram. This involves inserting a thin wire called a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin and deftly maneuvering it into the heart. Once in place, equipment on the catheter is used to make pictures of blood flow through the coronary arteries. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

A New Heart And A New Mission

Mr. Ron Murray, a tranplant heart recipient, tells his story:

From the video:

“If the transplant issue ever comes up for anyone listening, that’s almost the first thing they would think, too. If I had time to think about it over that year, I would have realized ‘Oh, my God.’ I would have apprehension all built up about how I would react to…I mean is it going to change my way of thinking? Is it going to alter my own thoughts? None of that holds up, ultimately.

When I realized that there was going to be forever an emotional component, and maybe a spiritual component to this thing that I hadn’t thought about, is when I became –- God, I don’t even know if I can tell you about it –- that I began to grieve for the donor, that brought me to tears several of those nights. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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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