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

Latest Posts

New Technology Enables Doctors To Diagnose Lung Nodules Without Surgery

Every year, a half million bronchoscopies are performed in the U.S. in order to investigate lesions within patients’ lungs. Because conventional bronchoscopy cannot reach the distant regions of the lungs, more invasive surgical procedures are often needed to diagnose lung nodules that may be malignant.

The General Thoracic Surgery Division at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia has begun using a new technology, superDimension Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™ (ENB). ENB creates a computer-generated reconstruction of the lungs from a CT scan of the tracheobronchial tree, explains Lyall A. Gorenstein, MD, FRCS (C), FACS, Director, Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery. Using these reconstructed images, the system creates a visual pathway so that surgeons can guide steerable catheters to where lung nodules are located, facilitating examination and biopsy.

“This enables us to Read more »

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

Researchers Make An Artificial Lung That Would Not Require A Mechanical Pump

Researchers from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio made a prototype of an artificial lung which reaches gas exchange efficiencies almost equal to the genuine organ. The small device does not need extra oxygen, it works with normal air. Joe Potkay, a research assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer science published the technique this week in the journal Lab on a Chip.

The scientists developed this prototype while keeping track of the natural design of our lungs. It is made of breathable silicone rubber acting as blood vessels that get as small as one-fourth of the width of a human hair. Because it works on the same scale as normal lung tissue, the team was able to shrink the distances for gas diffusion compared to current techniques. Tests using pig blood show oxygen exchange efficiency is three to five times better.

One of the big advantages of this system is that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Death Threats For Hospital Pecking-Order Violations

The consultants didn’t always need to know what was happening on the floor. But sometimes keeping things away from them became downright clandestine.

I was a senior registrar at Kalafong (hell). An old friend of mine had just taken up a post as consultant in the department of Internal Medicine. One day he approached me.

“Bongi, what are the chances you can do the occasional open lung biopsy for me?” Now there was no thoracic department in Kalafong so it seemed to me to be a reasonable request. In fact I was quite excited. It would give me a chance to do a few thoracotomies, something us general surgeons don’t do all that regularly.

“Sure! Anytime. Just let me know and I’ll book them on my list.”

“Uhmmm, there is just one small problem,” he continued, “I’ve already asked your consultant when the previous registrar was here and he bluntly refused, so I suppose you would need to convince him.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

Actual Living, Breathing Lungs On Stage At TEDMED 2010

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, a thoracic surgeon and director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program, showed the amazing miracle of modern lung transplantation at TEDMED 2010. Here’s his fascinating talk where an actual living, breathing set of porcine lungs were brought on stage for hands-on inspection by the audience:

Here’s a quick interview we were able to get with Dr. Keshavjee just after the talk: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Family Murders In South Africa

Of the things I encounter in my work, the one I find most disturbing is family murders. For some reason they happen with too much frequency in our country. It seems that some people, when life is too much for them are not happy to only put a bullet through their own head, but they feel the need to wipe out their entire family first. In my opinion it is a dastardly and cowardly act for which there is no excuse…ever.

The last one I was indirectly involved in was a typical story of a man that had lost it. He killed himself. But just before doing that he shot his wife and two children. His little girl made it to the hospital. I was asked to evaluate her, but she died before I even got to her. I was so disturbed I decided I didn’t want to see the body. I did, however see the scan. Besides the two bullet wounds through the head, the thing that struck me most were the two hair clips clearly visible on the scan in her hair on the back of her head. it was somehow disturbingly poignant and it stayed with me for some time.

Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

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 »