Longest surgery: Feb. 4-8, 1951
When Gertrude Levandowski, a 58-year-old widow from Burnips, Michigan, enters a Chicago hospital to have an ovarian cyst removed, it’s clear to doctors that they can’t follow the usual procedure. Levandowski weighs more than 600 pounds and a large part of that weight is the cyst itself. It’s so large that it’s putting pressure on the woman’s heart and the surgeons doubt that she’ll survive if they try to cut out the massive growth.
So the lead surgeon, Dr. M.S. Roberts proposes a very different approach to getting rid of the cyst. Instead of hacking it out, he suggests gradually draining fluid from the cyst — like slowly deflating a balloon — then removing the shrunken tumor once it no longer presents a threat to Levandowski’s heart.
So they begin to drain it. Over almost four days they suck fluid out of the cyst at a rate of 120 drops per minute until they’ve extracted about 200 pounds of liquid. Though it’s shrunken considerably, the growth still weighs more than 150 pounds, but it’s small enough to remove through more conventional surgery.
Despite the trauma to her body, Levandowski recovers quickly and when she leaves the hospital, she has lost half her weight. A few months later, after surgery to remove another 50 pounds of excess flesh, she weighs under 300 pounds for the first time in decades.
Amputee "feels" with bionic hand
Scientists and robotics experts from Italy, Switzerland, and Germany have created electronics and software that, for the first time, enabled a prosthetic device to give sensory feedback to the brain. And this allowed an amputee to experience a real-time touch sensation.
The team added sensors to an artificial hand which could detect and measure information about touch. Using computer algorithms, the scientists transformed the electrical signals they emitted into an impulse that sensory nerves could interpret.
During an operation in Rome, four electrodes were implanted onto nerves in the patient’s upper arm. These were then connected to artificial sensors in the fingers of the prosthetic hand, which allowed touch and pressure feedback to be sent directly to the brain.
The patient, Dennis Aabo, 36, lost his hand in a fireworks accident. He spent a month doing laboratory tests, first to check that the electrodes were functioning, and then after they were fully connected to the bionic hand. When asked about his new hand, he said, “The biggest difference was when I grabbed something I could feel what I was doing without having to look. I could use the hand in the dark.”
The team is now working on how to miniaturize the technology and eliminate external cables so that the device could be used in the home. The scientists think it could be a decade before a sensory feedback bionic hand is commercially available.
NEXT: Longest surgery: Feb. 4-8, 1951
Sourced from: BBC, Bionic hand allows patient to ‘feel’
Brain continually rewrites our memories
Researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine say that memories are continually adapting to our changing environments to help us survive and deal with what’s important in the present. For instance, the scientists believe even people’s recollections of love at first sight could be just tricks of memory, that we may simply be projecting our current feelings on to the memory of the first time we met our partner.
The team recruited 17 men and women to carry out a three-part experiment involving looking at and moving objects around on a computer screen. The participants undertook the tests while in an MRI scanner so the researchers could monitor their brain activity.
In the first part of the experiment, the participants were invited to study various objects presented to them on the screen. Each object appeared on a different background, such as an ocean scene, or an aerial view of farmland. In the next part of the experiment, the participants were presented with the objects again, but on a different background. The researchers asked them to put the objects in their correct locations, as presented to them in the first part of the experiment.
At this stage, the participants almost always put the objects in the wrong place on the screen. Then in the final stage of the experiment, the participants were presented with each object again, on its original background, but in three positions on the screen: the original one, the one they placed it in during the second part of the experiment, and a new location. They were asked to select the position at which the object appeared when they first saw it. The participants kept choosing the position they picked in the second phase of the experiment.
The researchers believe these results show that their original memory of the location had changed to reflect the location they recalled on the new background screen–in short, that their memory had been updated by the insertion of the new information into the old memory.
This is believed to be the first study to show how memory inserts things from the present into recollections of the past. The researchers believe these results could have implications for the reliability of eyewitness testimony in court cases.
NEXT: Amputee “feels” with bionic hand
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Brain updates memory with current experience
Women have more stroke risk factors than men
There are more risk factors for stroke in women than there are in men, according to new guidelines released by the American Heart Association (AHA).
The guidelines, aimed at preventing stroke in women, identify the following six risk factors: pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, pregnancy-related conditions (including high blood pressure and diabetes) and hormones (including post-menopausal hormone therapy and changes in hormonal status).
The AHA’s guidelines also offer treatment recommendations for stroke—the third leading cause of death among women. Experts said women should be aware of stroke risk and treat those risks early to prevent stroke later on in life. Additionally, since pregnancy is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke in women, it is important that a woman tell her doctor if she has experienced any health complications during pregnancy.
Other stroke risk factors in women and men include obesity, smoking and an inactive lifestyle. The guidelines are currently online and will be published in the May issue of the journal Stroke.
NEXT: Temporary blindness boosts hearing
Sourced from: Live Science, New Guidelines Target Stroke Risks Unique to Women