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Latest Posts

Sensory Nerves Recover Surprisingly Well After Facial Transplantation

Have you ever lost your sense of smell or taste?  Recall how it feels when your face/mouth don’t work properly until the nerve blocks wear off after a dental procedure.

Those are all things (and more) a facial transplant patient has to deal with.  The article discussing recovery of sensation after facial transplantation in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery discusses this topic (first reference below).

In addition to reviewing their own face transplant patients (n=4), Dr. Maria Siemionow and colleagues did a literature review (English literature for peer-reviewed articles published between 1940 and 2010) of sensory recovery after various standard nerve repair techniques.

These other nerve repair techniques included repair of the peripheral branches of the trigeminal nerve; sensory return after free tissue transfer (ie noninnervated flaps, including radial forearm, lateral thigh, anterolateral thigh, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, et al and innervated free flaps, including radial forearm, anterolateral thigh, and rectus abdominis musculocutaneous flaps); and sensory recovery following replantation of scalp and forehead. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Rationed Care, Denied Treatment, And “Death Panels”

One of the canards slung at the Affordable Care Act is that it creates “death panels” that would allow the government to deny patients lifesaving treatments, even though two independent and non-partisan fact-checking organizations found it would do no such thing.

I don’t bring this up now to rehash the debate, but because the New York Times had a recent story on Arizona’s decision to deny certain transplants to Medicaid enrollees — “death by budget cuts” in the words of reporter Marc Lacey. His story profiles several patients who died when they were unable to raise money on their own to fund a transplant. Lacey quotes a physician expert on transplants who flatly states: “There’s no doubt that people aren’t going to make it because of this decision.”

Arizona Medicaid officials told the Times that they “recommended discontinuing some transplants only after assessing the success rates for previous patients. Among the discontinued procedures are lung transplants, liver transplants for hepatitis C patients and some bone marrow and pancreas transplants, which altogether would save the state about $4.5 million a year.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

A Look At The History Of Microsurgery

Facial transplants, hand replants, and free flaps are only possible in large part due to microsurgery. 

I finally got around to reading the “History of Microsurgery.” The article is good reading for anyone interested in the history of microsurgery.

The article, written by Susumu Tamai, M.D., Ph.D., (Japan) was received for publication in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery on June 14, 2007.

Microsurgery is relatively young, and Dr. Tamai breaks down the history into four periods. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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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