A Surgeon’s Secret

Dr. Mary Austin of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, performs surgery on babies still in the womb, in order to correct a birth defect before birth. The surgery is delicate, as the patient is unbelievably tiny and the organs and nerves can be like tissue paper.

The birth defect is called spina bifida. Untreated, it can cause a range of disabilities, from incontinence to learning difficulties to an inability to walk. But the surgery carries some risks, too; it can send the mothers into premature labor, months before their due dates — and there’s no guarantee it will prevent physical disabilities in the baby.

Austin, a pediatric surgeon, helps counsel couples…

Zoo Calls In Regular Doctors To Perform Emergency Surgery On Pregnant Gorilla

After 24 hours of labor, Kira the gorilla had not progressed and was beginning to tire and show signs she was feeling worse.

The Philadelphia Zoo had to act fast if they were going to save Kira and her baby. So they brought in a team of veterinarians and regular doctors to perform an emergency delivery using procedures and equipment similar to those used in human deliveries — and it worked.

The 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla successfully delivered a healthy five pound baby boy.

good news doctors save...

Taking Jimmy Kimmel’s lecture to heart

Jimmy Kimmel.

I don’t need comedian Jimmy Kimmel to lecture me on pre-existing conditions and insurance coverage. Earlier this week, the funny man made national headlines for the most serious of reasons: his son was born with a congenital heart defect and required emergency surgery to save his life. The emotional roller coaster caused Kimmel to speak out on current attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, he denounced the provisions that would affect how insurance companies cover anyone with a pre-existing health condition. It is among the core issues faced by Congress today.

Kimmel’s heartfelt advocacy drew the ire of some and rebukes from others. Most detractors lambasted Kimmel for using his celebrity to speak out, as though he should forfeit his First Amendment rights because he happens to be household name. I had a very different reaction to Kimmel speaking on the topic.

When she was born, my step-daughter Bailey had a congenital heart defect. Or, more precisely as my wife Lori corrected me, three defects. Bailey required immediate intervention and surgery. To this day, my wife cannot talk about the first few weeks of Bailey’s life without tearing up.

Luckily, Lori had insurance through her employer and not only did Bailey get the help she needed, she got it from the pre-eminent pediatric surgeon in the world, Dr. Roger Mee at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Mee’s exploits in saving children’s lives is so renowned that a journalist once chronicled his work in a book entitled “Walk on Water.” If you want to know a little about what Kimmel’s family and…

Microsoft’s HoloLens gets a new medical app using augmented reality for spinal surgery

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just for Pokémon Go and Snapchat masks, the technology will can have practical applications in areas like medicine, too.

At least that’s the promise of the new Scopis Holographic Navigation Platform, which is designed to be used with the Microsoft HoloLens to help doctors perform spinal surgery.

The company claims that its system can use 3D tracking with the HoloLens to help accurately find…

Congressman fresh out of surgery is all smiles as he votes to take away your health care

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, made sure to vote against Obamacare -- even after just getting surgery.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, made sure to vote against Obamacare — even after just getting surgery.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah was supposed to be at home resting from foot surgery related to a 12-year-old injury — instead he scooted into the Capitol with a big smile on his face as he voted to kill Obamacare.

The irony, of course, is that the House’s rushed health care repeal bill would allow states to get rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions…

Veterinarian Sweetly Sings To Puppy To Calm Her Down Before Surgery

Fox Hollow Animal Hospital
Dr. Ross and a pup named Samantha.

On Thursday, Henderson, who works at Fox Hollow Animal Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, was set to perform a routine spay on a 6-month-old pup named Ruby. She was running and jumping around, unable to settle down, so Henderson grabbed his guitar and sweetly sang Elvis Presley’s “I Cant Help Falling In Love With You” to calm her nerves before the procedure.

Office manager Darcy Holloway recorded a video of the moment and posted it to the Fox Hollow Facebook page, where it has since been viewed 280,000 times:

“When [Ruby] was waiting…

Spaying/Neutering Is Up, Animal Populations In Shelters Are Down Across The U.S.

It’s good news for dog and cat enthusiasts.

The U.S. has seen a massive increase in the number of spay or neutering procedures as outreach and subsidization programs.

animal shelter good news

Right now, there are around 12.6 million spay/neuter surgeries performed on cats and dogs every year according to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs. Most shelters also have requirements that any adopted animal be spayed or neutered immediately after adoption, or the shelter sets up the surgery…

Laser Surgery: Expanding the Bed of a Cheap Chinese Laser Cutter

Don’t you just hate it when you spend less than $400 on a 40-watt laser cutter and it turns out to have a work area the size of a sheet of copy paper? [Kostas Filosofou] sure did, but rather than stick with that limited work envelope, he modified his cheap K40 laser cutter so it has almost five times the original space.

The K40 doesn’t make any pretenses — it’s a cheap laser cutter and engraver from China. But with new units going for $344 on eBay now, it’s almost a no-brainer. Even with its limitations, you’re…

Anesthesia for youngsters is a tricky calculation

baby having surgery
Short, one-time bouts of anesthesia probably don’t cause lasting harm to children’s brains, several studies suggest. But scientists have a lot to learn about anesthetics’ lasting effects, particularly in the youngest patients.

If your young child is facing ear tubes, an MRI or even extensive dental work, you’ve probably got a lot of concerns. One of them may be about whether the drugs used to render your child briefly unconscious can permanently harm his brain. Here’s the frustrating answer: No one knows.

“It’s a tough conundrum for parents of kids who need procedures,” says pediatric anesthesiologist Mary Ellen McCann, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Everything has risks and benefits,” but in this case, the decision to go ahead with surgery is made more difficult by an incomplete understanding of anesthesia’s risks for babies and young children. Some studies suggest that single, short exposures to anesthesia aren’t dangerous. Still, scientists and doctors say that we desperately need more data before we really understand what anesthesia does to developing brains.

It helps to know this nonanswer comes with a lot of baggage, a sign that a lot of very smart and committed people are trying to answer the question. In December, the FDA issued a drug safety communication about anesthetics that sounded alarming, beginning with a warning that “repeated or lengthy use of general anesthetic and sedation drugs during surgeries or procedures in children younger than 3 years or in pregnant women during their third trimester may affect the development of children’s brains.” FDA recommended more conversations between parents and doctors, in the hopes of delaying surgeries that can safely wait, and the amount of anesthesia exposure in this potentially vulnerable population.

The trouble with that statement, though, is that it raises concerns without answering them, says pediatric anesthesiologist Dean Andropoulos of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. And that concern might lead to worse outcomes for their youngest patients. “Until reassuring new information from well-designed clinical trials is available, we are concerned that the FDA…

Gastric bypass controls diabetes long term better than other methods

gastric bypass
STOMACH SURGERY Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach and shortens the digestive path for food. While performed for weight loss, the procedure may also bring long-term remission of diabetes.

People who undergo gastric bypass surgery are more likely to experience a remission of their diabetes than patients who receive a gastric sleeve or intensive management of diet and exercise, according to a new study. Bypass surgery had already shown better results for diabetes than other weight-loss methods in the short term, but the new research followed patients for five years.

“We knew that surgery had a powerful effect on diabetes,” says Philip Schauer of the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “What this study says is that the effect of surgery is durable.” The results were published online February 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study followed 134 people with type 2 diabetes for five years in a head-to-head comparison of weight-loss methods. At the end of that time, two of 38 patients who only followed intensive diet and exercise plans were no longer in need of insulin to manage blood sugar levels. For comparison, 11 of 47 patients who had a gastric sleeve, which reduces the size of the stomach, and 14 of 49 who underwent gastric bypass, a procedure that…