Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
CNN.com is reporting on the inspiring story of a newborn baby whose life-threatening intestinal obstruction was corrected not through major, invasive surgery, but through an innovative technique using magnets:
A thin, hard membrane was blocking a section of [newborn, 4-pound] Patrick’s intestines — the result of a rare birth defect called rectal atresia that occurs in one out of every 5,000 babies.
“We need to remove it,” the doctor told the couple.
[Dr. Eric] Scaife described to Patrick’s worried parents a long, technically difficult surgery. Patrick would be cut open through his abdomen and vertically along his tailbone. Once inside, Scaife would remove the membrane and then piece together two sections of intestines.
He had his concerns. It was a big operation on a little baby. The surgery might cause scarring, or it might injure nerves in Patrick’s pelvis that could lead to incontinence.
If Patrick was Scaife’s son, what would he do? Divricean asked the surgeon.
Scaife told her he’d think on it and give them an answer the next week.
“Hopefully, they’ll come up with something that will save Patrick or will give us a better option at least,” Divricean thought as she waited for the week to pass.
A week later, Scaife had an idea.
Instead of removing Patrick’s blockage, he wanted to break through it — with two powerful magnets.
In the hands of children, strong magnets have proven dangerous, even deadly. When swallowed, they’ve passed into the intestines, and their attraction to each other has forged a hole in tissues.
It occurred to Scaife that in the skilled hands of a surgeon, magnets might be a useful tool instead of a hazard. If he placed a magnet on either side of Patrick’s blockage, their attraction might make a hole and destroy the membrane, allowing stool to pass.
Scaife’s idea was untested and unproven — but if it worked, Patrick wouldn’t need surgery.
Read on for the whole story.
Image: Surgeon, via Shutterstock
Monday, March 12th, 2012
In an unprecedented surgical approach to treating a rare disorder, a 6-year-old Florida girl has received a triple organ transplant–Angela Bushi received a new liver, two kidneys, and a pancreas. MSNBC.com reports that the surgeries, which took place in December, offer hope for a longer, better-quality life for Angela, who is suffering from Wolcott-Rallison Syndrome, a rare, fatal genetic disorder:
Only about 60 cases of the disorder – which causes infant-onset diabetes and liver failure, as well as bone fractures, intellectual impairment and frequent infections — have been reported. Only one of those children lived into young adulthood. It had killed Angela’s younger sister and damaged Angela’s organs.
On December 29, in an unprecedented multiple-organ transplant on a child, Angela received a liver, two kidneys and a pancreas, doctors said.
The operation – the first time a transplant has been used to treat the disorder — “might offer some hope for these children with this rare syndrome, that life can be prolonged, hopefully in a very meaningful way,” Dr. Andreas Tzakis, transplant surgeon, told msnbc.com Thursday. Tzakis is the chief of the liver and digestive tract program at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Infants who require multiple exposures to medical anesthesia in the first two years of their lives have a higher chance of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as they grow, a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings has found. At least two surgeries rendered kids twice as likely to develop the disorder before age 19, the study found.
CNN.com reports that researchers are not taking the findings as evidence that children should not have necessary surgical procedures:
The longer a child was unconscious, the greater the ADHD risk, which suggests that even several short exposures to anesthesia could heighten risk, says senior study author David O. Warner, M.D., a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester.
Warner, however, stresses that parents should not be unduly alarmed if their child requires general anesthesia. “All we can say is that we can’t exclude that this could be a problem,” he says, noting that the findings do not prove cause and effect.
Very few young children undergo surgery requiring general anesthesia, and those who do typically have serious medical conditions that can’t be ignored. Procedures might include hernia repair (to prevent a section of intestine from getting trapped and causing an obstruction), or surgeries to correct life-threatening abnormalities of the lungs or heart.
Image: Baby in the hospital, via Shutterstock
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Children who have appendectomies or broken limbs are not given adequate narcotic pain medication, which leads to more hospital re-admissions than necessary, a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery has found.
Thirteen percent of kids under age 18 who had had appendectomies reported pain that lingered for months, CNN.com reports. “Children are not being given enough pain medication, and they’re suffering needlessly,” Dr. Zeev Kain, senior author of the study and a pediatric anesthesiologist at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN.
The issue is two-f0ld, researchers found, a combination of doctors being reticent to send powerful pain medications home with parents, and parents who are nervous about giving their children the painkillers. But the study’s authors say that if doctors educate parents and write short-term prescriptions, and if parents carefully follow their doctors’ instructions about proper use of the drugs, their children can experience significant pain relief with minimal risk.
CNN offers advice for parents on how to manage post-surgical pain in children:
Pediatric pain experts have these tips for parents:
1. Ask your doctor about pain medication before your child leaves the hospital
If you think your child is in pain or will be in pain once you return home from the hospital, ask about pain medication.
“And if your child was on something for pain in the hospital, ask why they’re not continuing it when they go home,” Petitti advises.
2. Ask your doctor when to give the medication
Ask if you should give your child medication before the pain starts or only if they’re in pain, or if you should give the medication before your child tries to do a physical activity such as walking.
“You need to be really aggressive in terms of asking questions,” Kain advises.
3. Fill out your child’s prescription before you get home
When you arrive home with a sick child after a surgery or visit to the ER, it’s often tough to leave that child to go get the medication. Kain advises filling the prescription on the way home or at the hospital pharmacy if your hospital has one.
4. Recognize when your child is in pain
Once you get home, remember that a child won’t always cry, scream, or complain when they’re in pain, pediatric pain experts say. Some children in pain become quiet and withdrawn or have trouble eating or sleeping.
Unfortunately, both parents and doctors sometimes miss the pain in the quiet kids.
A 2008 study titled “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease” showed that a day after having a broken limb treated in the emergency room, 20% of children received no pain medication, and 44% received only one dose. The children who were most likely to get medication were those who were loud and cried a lot.
Children in certain ethnic groups may be less likely to say they’re in pain because their culture places a high value on appearing stoic. Some studies have shown that Hispanics, for example, are less likely to talk about pain and ask for medicine.
5. Think about other ways to address the pain besides drugs
Alternative methods such as aromatherapy, acupuncture and music can be extremely helpful for kids in pain, Kain says.
Another technique is particularly powerful: distraction.
“You should definitely acknowledge your child’s pain by saying something like ‘Poor baby, I know it hurts to move, but then you should quickly move on to a solution,” Kain says. “You can say ‘let’s go for a drive’ or ‘let’s read a book’ or ‘let’s plan your birthday party together.’ Don’t just let your child lie there miserably on the sofa.”
(image via: http://www.123rf.com/)
Friday, September 16th, 2011
Conjoined twins who were attached at the pelvis and lower spine were successfully separated in a 13-hour operation that was, UPI reports, “the most complex procedure every performed in the history” of the Memphis children’s hospital where it took place. From the UPI report:
Joshua and Jacob Spates of Memphis, though joined at the lower spine and pelvis, have separate hearts, heads and limbs.
Doctors said the twins have health problems that will require ongoing treatment, but said they hope both will be able to walk with braces.
Conjoined twins are very rare, occurring only in 1 out of every 200,000 live births.