Technology makes breast cancer surgery more precise
Surgeons at the University of California Irvine Medical Center have begun using a technology that can help them more precisely eliminate breast cancer cells. And that could reduce the necessity to do follow-up surgery by more than 50 percent. Currently, between 30 and 60 percent of the time, surgeons need to go back in and remove more tissue.
The new technology is called the MarginProbe System and it allows a surgeon to immediately evaluate if any cancer cells remain after a lumpectomy. Rather than having to wait several days to see if the surgeon was successful in removing all cancerous cells, the doctors can now assess the situation during the procedure itself. The technology targets the edges of the tissue taken out, an area where surgeons often end up removing cells or missing cancerous cells. Using MarginProbe, more healthy tissue can be preserved and the likelihood of missing cancer cells is reduced.
This is the first hospital to work with the MarginProbe System, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last December. It uses a handheld probe and radio-frequency signals to determine if tissue is cancerous. Researchers have called the ability to check tissue in the operating room a “game changer” for early-stage breast cancer.
General anesthesia raises dementia risk
General anesthesia has a significant impact on the body and new research from INSERM and the University of Bordeaux in France has found evidence that it could affect a person’s brain function, even years after the surgery. Specifically, the study contends that elderly patients who were given general anesthesia had an increased risk of developing dementia. The researchers found that some anesthetics may trigger inflammation of neural tissue, which leads to post-operative cognitive dysfunction, and that that could have a long-term impact.
This study looked at people over the age of 65 who were treated with anesthesia, examining data from a study that assessed dementia and cognitive decline linked to vascular risk factors. Seniors were interviewed at the start of the study, then two, four, seven and 10 years later, and were asked about history of anesthesia, among other questions. The researchers determined that 37 percent of those with dementia had received some form of anesthesia compared to 32 percent of others, and that 22 percent of dementia patients reported receiving general anesthesia versus 19 percent without dementia.
The scientists concluded that those who had had received general anesthesia at least once over an eight-year period had a 35 percent higher risk of developing dementia.
Bizarre stomach experiment: June 6, 1822
A U.S. Army doctor named William Beaumont, stationed at a fort in upper Michigan, rushes to try to save a young fur trapper nearby who has been accidentally shot in the stomach. He treats the 20-year-old, named Alexis St. Martin, but assumes he won’t survive. But St. Martin doesn’t die. His wound, however, heals in a strange way. The perforated edge of his stomach grows into his skin. So while a flap a skin covers it, the hole never closes.
Beaumont realizes he has a unique opportunity to study what actually happens in a human stomach. To keep St. Martin around, he hires him as a handyman. Then, a few years later, he begins a somewhat bizarre science experiment. He ties silk string around bits of different types of food and lowers them into St. Martin’s gut.
Beaumont did this 238 times over the next eight years, keeping meticulous notes of how long it took different types of food to be fully digested. He recorded, for instance, that animal brains took an hour and 45 minutes, baked custard lasted two hours and 45 minutes and a hard-boiled egg took three hours and 30 minutes in the digestive juices before it was gone.
At one point he was able to remove acid from St. Martin’s stomach and put it in small cups. Then he dropped food into the liquid and watched it slowly dissolve. This proved that stomach acid, and not just the mashing, pounding and squeezing of the stomach, digests food into nutrients. Beaumont had shown that digestion was primarily a chemical process and not a mechanical one.
In 1833, he published a book, “Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion," and soon became known as the “Father of Gastric Physiology.” He traveled around the U.S. giving lectures on his discovery, sometimes taking St. Martin along as his “living laboratory.”
By the mid-1830s, though, the pair parted ways, with St. Martin moving back to Quebec while Beaumont settled in St. Louis. Several times over the next 20 years the doctor tried to convince St. Martin to come to Missouri so he could conduct more experiments. But St. Martin never made the trip.
Beaumont died in 1853 as a result of injuries he suffered when he slipped on ice-covered steps. St. Martin, meanwhile, lived a long life, dying at the age of 78. When his family heard that some doctors wanted to do an autopsy, they let his body decompose for three days before burying it so it wouldn’t be subjected to any more scientific probing.
More slices of history:
Heimlich maneuver born: June 1, 1974
Toothpaste in tubes: May 22, 1892
The Fist Vaccination: May 14, 1786
The Pill Arrives: May 9, 1960
Hello, Cheerios: May 1, 1941
First hit workout video: April 24, 1982
Insulin goes mainstream: April 15, 1923
Polio vaccine celebrated: April 12, 1955
First artificial heart: April 4, 1969
First batch of Coca-Cola: March 29, 1886
Elephant man case presented: March 17, 1885