Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fireworks Safety Review

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

As the 4th of July approaches, I’ve begun to hear fireworks exploring in my neighborhood.  It’s been dry here, so in addition to the risk of injury to person there is a risk of setting the fields on fire.  I sure hope my neighbors are being responsible.
I hope you will all have a safe and happy July 4th.  Be safe and stay out of the ER.
Please use the following tips:
  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.  A responsible adult should be in charge.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions. 
  • Be sure other people are out-of-range before lighting fireworks. Small children should be kept a safe distance from the fireworks; older children that use fireworks need to be carefully supervised.
  • Do not smoke when handling any type of "live" firecracker, rocket, or aerial display.
  • Keep all fireworks away from any flammable liquids, dry grassy areas, or open bonfires.
  • Keep a bucket of water or working garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Take note of any sudden wind change that could cause sparks or debris to fall on a car, house, or person.
  • Never attempt to pick up and relight a "fizzled" firework device that has failed to light or "go off"
  • Do not use any aluminum or metal soda/beer can or glass bottle to stage or hold fireworks before lighting.
  • Do not use any tightly closed container for these lighted devices to add to the exploding effect or to increase noise.
  • Never attempt to make your own exploding device from raw gunpowder or similar flammable substance. The results are too unpredictable.
  • Never use mail-order fireworks kits. These do-it-yourself kits are simply unsafe.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cocaine and Ear Necrosis

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

Last week Science Daily had a brief article noting the association of contaminated cocaine with ear necrosis:   Contaminated Cocaine Triggers Decaying, Dying Skin  (photo credit) 
I’ve written about skin complications from drug abuse in the past, but this is not one I knew of.  Most common are skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs).
The crusty, purplish areas of dead skin (purpura) that can occur with this contaminated cocaine are extremely painful and can open the door to nasty infections.  (note the lower lobe of the ear in the photo)
Apparently the cocaine is contaminated with a de-worming drug commonly used by veterinarians called levamisole,  noted by the U.S. DEA to have been found in 30% of confiscated cocaine in 2008 and 70% in 2009.
This complication from the use of the contaminated cocaine was recently reported in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (full reference below).  The report highlights six new and very similar patient cases of purpura, mostly on and around the ears, following the contaminated cocaine use.  There were six cases --  four seen in Rochester, N.Y. and two in Los Angeles. 
Although in each case an extensive battery of blood tests ruled out the usual causes of purpura, the JAAD paper authors write “because testing is not easily performed, we did not test for levamisole in the serum or blood to prove this is the causative agent.”
From the Science Digest article:
According to Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., an author and associate professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, "When we first started seeing these patients they all had a similar clinical picture, but they were really an enigma because they weren't falling into any other pattern we'd seen before. When a colleague at the National Institutes of Health mentioned levamisole contamination, we did toxicity screens and lo-and-behold, all the patients came up positive for cocaine. We had our diagnosis."
Drug enforcement officials have detected levamisole -- which was once used to treat colon cancer -- in cocaine since 2003, but have watched it increase rapidly in recent years. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that the drug, which is inexpensive, is used more and more as a diluting agent in order to stretch supplies. Study authors report that levamisole is known to increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers, causing experts to believe it is also added to cocaine to further enhance or prolong the user's high.
Researchers don't know how levamisole causes purpura, which occurs when vessels become plugged and blood can't flow to the skin, leading to skin death and the resulting purplish, crusty appearance. Cocaine alone constricts blood vessels, which is probably the first step, but how levamisole contributes is not yet understood, Mercurio said.
The purpura can occur with both smoking and snorting of the tainted cocaine.  Treatment options include steroids to prevent inflammation, but stopping the exposure to cocaine is the best medicine.

Characteristic purpura of the ears, vasculitis, and neutropenia–a potential public health epidemic associated with levamisole-adulterated cocaine; Catherine Chung, Paul C. Tumeh, Ron Birnbaum, Belinda H. Tan, Linda Sharp, Erin McCoy, Mary Gail Mercurio, Noah Craft; Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 09 June 2011, (10.1016/j.jaad.2010.08.024)
U.S. DEA:  Drugs of Abuse – 2011 Edition

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shout Outs

Updated 3/2017:  all links removed as many no longer active and it was easier than going through all of them.
Colorado Health Insurance Insider is the host for this week’s Grand Rounds.  You can read this week’s edition here.
Welcome to Grand Rounds!  It’s the third time we’ve hosted Grand Rounds at the Colorado Health Insurance Insider and we’re honored to be hosting again. It was a pleasure to read so many great articles for this edition.  Since our blog tends to focus on health care policy and reform, I’m starting things off with the posts that pertain to that topic.  Enjoy!  . ……..
TBTAM responds to the Supreme Court ruling on the Vermont Law:  Supreme Court to Docs – You Have No Privacy
……Apparently, Big Pharma’s right to “free speech” trumps my right to privacy. How getting access to my prescribing information has anything to do with free speech is beyond me.  In the twisted logic of the pro-business, anti-citizen Supreme Court -
Speech in aid of pharmaceutical marketing ….… is a form of expression protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

And so has Doctor Wes:  When Speech Trumps Privacy
…….What interests me from this ruling is that the act of collecting this information -- the prescribing physician's name and address; the name, dosage, and quantity of the medication; the date and place where the prescription was filled; and the patient's age and gender -- was considered "speech" with the justices ruling that "the creation and dissemination of information are speech for First Amendment purposes."
Think about that: writing a prescription and disseminating that information is now "speech."…….
Doctor Wes writes about  Appointment Phishing along with the NY Times:  U.S. Using ‘Mystery Shoppers’ to Check on Access to Doctors -
From NY Times:
Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of “mystery shoppers” to pose as patients, call doctors’ offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it.
The administration says the survey will address a “critical public policy problem”: the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice.
From Doctor Wes
…….When information gathering trumps patient care - particularly fictitious care - we've got a problem. Is this a new quality standard we can expect from our new government health care initiative?
Just like scam-artists that phish for unsuspecting people's financial information online, governmental appointment phishing should not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. It is fraud - plain and simple. ….
Dr. Kent Bottles view:  Are Mystery Shoppers Such a Bad Idea for Health Care Quality Improvement?
…….I disagree with my colleagues that a properly planned and implemented mystery shopper program is a bad idea for trying to improve health care. For far too long, we in medicine have been too arrogant to learn lessons from other industries that improve quality. I think we need all the help we can get to take better care of patients.
From White Coat Underground:  Is Medicare spying on doctors?
The short answer is "yes"; of course they are.  Normally, if Medicare wants to check up on a doctor (rather than doctors) they simply order an audit…….
It's the wrong question.  A better question might be, "My blood pressure has been running high, in the 160's, but I feel OK, how soon can I see the doctor?" …
Thomas Fiala, MD, PSB - the Orlando plastic surgery blog , reports  France bans mesotherapy
Here's an interesting development in the mesotherapy (melting fat by injection) story: as of early April 2011, the French Ministry of Health has outlawed all mesotherapy for the purpose of dissolving subcutaneous fat. Whether you call it "Lipodissolve", "mesotherapy", or "injection lipolysis"'s no longer permitted there. The Ministry of Health views it to be a serious health risk.  ………
Lipodissolve methods have had a checkered past here in the USA, …..,which we've discussed in an earlier blog (link here).
Dr Val, Better Health, is now hosting a radio show called, "Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones."  It is currently available here on iTunes.  The show has three segments (one about the importance of regular eye exams, one about contact lens care, and one about UV protection for eyes). It's available as a full show (20 minutes) and as individual segments.
H/T @gastromom: Human Trafficking: The Shameful Face of Migration
This month PLoS Medicine publishes a series of articles focused on migration and health. The series provides new insights into the ways by which global movement of people influences the health of individuals and populations, and sets out policy approaches for protecting the health of those most vulnerable during the five phases of migration….. One category, that of trafficked persons, stands out as a uniquely vulnerable group that is largely ignored.
Trafficked persons are defined as “individuals who are coerced, tricked or forced into situations in which their bodies or labor are exploited, which may occur across international borders or within their own country”   …….
Another nice NY Times article from Dr. Pauline Chen:  Epilepsy From the Patient’s Point of View
……..For the last 20 years, Dr. Brien J. Smith has tried to change how doctors and patients view epilepsy. Earlier this year, Dr. Smith, chief of neurology at Spectrum Health in Michigan, became chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation. Being elected head of a national organization does not seem unusual for a doctor who is a well-recognized authority and advocate in his or her field.  What is extraordinary is that Dr. Smith knows firsthand about the disease and what his patients experience: He learned he had epilepsy when he was in high school.
“Every day I see how off-base health care workers are with seizures and epilepsy,” Dr. Smith said recently. “There’s a lot of stigma attached, a lot of stereotypes regarding cognitive abilities and how seizures should look.”   ……..
Sarah McFarland, Threads Magazine, has a piece announcing:  “Show Your Support" and Embellish a Bra (photo credit)
The 2011 American Sewing Expo is coming right up - September 23-25 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan…..
A staple exhibit at ASE is the annual entries in the "Show Your Support Bra Challenge." Sponsored by Coats &Clark and BurdaStyle, the contest showcases some amazing lingerie decorated by the skills of sewers across the country…..
You can find the Show Your Support Bra Challenge full rules and the entry form online at the ASE site. Good luck, and good for you if you enter!

Dr. Ralph Millard,

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

Dr. D. Ralph Millard (1919-2011) is known in the plastic surgery community for his contribution to improved surgical techniques for the correction of cleft palates.  He died Sunday, June 19, 2011. (photo credit)
PSNews tribute:  Plastic surgery pioneer D. Ralph Millard Jr., MD, dies at age 92
NBC Miami tribute:  Cleft Palate Pioneer Ralph Millard Laid to Rest
……He trained more than 180 young, and not so young, men and women in whom his legacy is entrusted.  The “Chief,” as he was known to his residents at the University of Miami, was an exacting task master, an elegant surgeon and a consummate teacher.  His surgical greatness cannot be denied, but his most profound legacy may be as a teacher of Plastic Surgery.  Through the gift of his text books and manuscripts he tried to pass on to all Plastic Surgeons his vision of our specialty.  ……
The Millard technique or the rotation-advancement cleft lip technique (photo credit)

Dr. Millard was a “giant” in plastic surgery who will be missed.  My condolences to his family.

REFERENCES to just a few of Millard’s articles (full bibliography)
1.  Millard DR Jr. Rotation-advancement versus Giraldes’ cleft lip technique. Plast Reconstr Surg Transplant Bull. 1961;28:595-7.
2.  Millard DR Jr. Refinements in rotation-advancement cleft lip technique. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1964;33:26-38.  (pdf file)
3.  Millard DR Jr. Rotation-advancement principle in cleft lip closure. Cleft Palate J. 1964;12:246-52.
4.  Millard DR Jr. The unilateral cleft lip nose. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1964;34:169-75.
5.  Millard DR Jr. Closure of bilateral cleft lip and elongation of columella by two operations. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1971;47(4):324-31

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ideal Dressing for STSG Donor Site – an Article Review

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

In the 2009 review (2nd reference below),  Voineskos and colleagues did a literature review of skin graft donor-site dressings.  They noted that although there is no clear evidence that moist dressings are any better overall when compared with dry dressings,  there is evidence that moist dressings tend to be less painful than dry dressings.
Donor sites take an average of 7 to 21 days to heal, depending on their size, location, and the patient's health status. 
This latest study (first article referenced below) compared Aquacel and a modified (perforated) polyurethane dressing modified (MPD).  The study is a prospective randomized double-blind clinical trial which included 50 adult patients. 
The authors state (bold emphasis is mine):
The ideal dressing should protect the wound from desiccation and at the same time permit gas exchange to accelerate reepithelialization. It should be impermeable to exogenous microorganisms, comfortable for the patient and the ward staff and associated with only minimal labor input. Moreover, the dressing should be flexible and pliable to permit conformation to irregular wound surfaces. Resistance to linear and shear stress are required as well as good tensile strength to resist fragmentation and retention of membrane fragments when removed. It should, furthermore, be adaptable to the varying dimensions of donor sites and, in spite of everything; it should also be of low cost. Existing dressing materials meet some of these criteria but fail to fulfill all of them, especially in larger donor sites.
Dornseifer and colleagues had previously (4th reference) noted that the “single disadvantage of polyurethane film dressings is an uncontrolled leakage” which they solved by modifying it by perforating the polyurethane film.  This  permits a controlled leakage into a secondary absorbent dressing.
They chose to compare this MPD to Aquacel ® (ConvaTec, Skillman, NJ, USA), a sodium carboxy-methylcellulose hydrocolloid polymer that is claimed to have a high fluid-absorptive capacity and was also described to be a new preferred donor site dressing. (5th reference)
Half of the skin graft donor sites were dressed with an application of Aquacel(R) and half with MPD.  The dressings were kept unchanged for ten days at which time they were removed and the epithelialization rate of both sites was evaluated. Pain scores were assessed according to a 0 to 5 numeric pain scale every postoperative day, as well as during dressing removal.
In this small study, MPD was found to best Aquacel ®.  More MPD donor sites completely reepithelialized by 10 days than the Aquacel ® sites (86.4% vs 54.5%).
MPD was significantly less painful until and during removal of the dressing (p < 0.001).
Pain at the donor site during the postoperative period was consistently low after wound coverage with both materials, considering that 90% of the values assessed by the six-items pain scale were equal to or less than 1 (minimal intermittent pain) at both sites.
However, when patients were asked to compare both sites, a significantly higher percentage of MPD sites were rated superior to the Aquacel® sites
Dornseifer and colleagues note the costs of the Aquacel® dressing turned out to be about four times more expensive, relating to a donor site of 8 x 20 cm2 and depending on the
respective price level.
Scarring was inconspicuous in both groups 60 days following surgery and no significant differences were detected between the MPD and Aquacel® treated donor sites.

1.  The ideal split-thickness skin graft donor site dressing: a clinical comparative trial of a modified polyurethane dressing and Aquacel(R); Dornseifer, Ulf; Lonic, Daniel; Ivo Gerstung, Tristan; Herter, Frank; Max Fichter, Andreas; Holm, Charlotte; Schuster, Tibor; Ninkovic, Milomir; Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery., POST ACCEPTANCE, 15 June 2011; doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182268c02
2.  Systematic Review of Skin Graft Donor-Site Dressings; Voineskos, Sophocles H.; Ayeni, Olubimpe A.; McKnight, Leslie; Thoma, Achilleas; Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 124(1):298-306, July 2009; doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181a8072f
3.  The theoretically ideal donor site; Birdsell, D. C., Hein, K. S., Lindsay, R. L.; dressing. Ann Plast Surg 2: 535-537, 1979.
4.   The ideal split-thickness skin graft donor site dressing: rediscovery of polyurethane film;  Dornseifer, U., Fichter, A. M., Herter, F., et al.; Ann Plast Surg 63: 198-200, 2009.
5.  Clinical comparative study of aquacel and paraffin gauze dressing for split-skin donor site treatment; Barnea, Y., Amir, A., Leshem, D., et al.;   Ann Plast Surg 53: 132-136, 2004.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Recent Knitting

Here are two recently finished knitting projects. The first is the Shalom Sweater. It is knitted using Louet Euroflax Chunky Weight, the same yarn I used for the Linen Miragamo Bag.
I gave it to my friend @gastromom who loves linen.
Here is the button detail.

This scarf is made using Artyarns Cottonspring and the pattern Dayflower Lace Scarf pattern (free pdf).   I haven’t decided who will receive the scarf.  It was made from an extra skein of yarn from a previous project (see below).

This top was made using the Drops pattern 107-8 top with lace pattern.   Yes, that’s me modeling it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FDA Updates Safety Data for Silicone Breast Implants

Updated 3/2017:  all links except to my own posts were removed as many no longer active and it was easier than checking each one.
Yesterday, the FDA published this press release:  FDA provides updated safety data on silicone gel-filled breast implants
In November 2006, the FDA approved silicone gel-filled breast implants for breast augmentation in women over age 22 and for breast reconstruction in all women. 
This latest report includes preliminary safety data from post-approval studies conducted by each of the two breast implant manufacturers (Allergan and Mentor), a summary and analysis of adverse events received over the years by the FDA, and a comprehensive review and analysis of recent scientific publications that discuss the safety and effectiveness of silicone gel-filled breast implants.
Based on the report, women should know:
  • Breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer a woman has silicone gel-filled breast implants, the more likely she is to experience complications. One in 5 patients who received implants for breast augmentation will need them removed within 10 years of implantation. For patients who received implants for breast reconstruction, as many as 1 in 2 will require removal 10 years after implantation.
  • The most frequently observed complications and outcomes are capsular contracture (hardening of the area around the implant), reoperation (additional surgeries) and implant removal. Other common complications include implant rupture, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring, pain, and infection. Check out the FDA booklet for patients:  Breast Implants Complications Booklet.
  • Preliminary data do not indicate that silicone gel-filled breast implants cause breast cancer, reproductive problems or connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis.  However, in order to rule out these and other rare complications, studies would need to enroll more women and be longer than those conducted thus far.

At this time, the FDA is recommending that health care professionals and women who have silicone gel-filled breast implants do the following:
  • Follow up. Women should continue to routinely follow up with their health care professionals.  The FDA recommends women with silicone gel-filled breast implants undergo MRI screening for silent implant ruptures at 3 years post-implantation, and every 2 years thereafter.
  • Be aware and pay attention to changes. Breast implants are not lifetime devices. Breast implants are associated with significant local complications and outcomes, including capsular contracture, reoperation, removal, and implant rupture. Some women also experience breast pain, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring and infection.  Women should notify their health care professionals if they develop any unusual symptoms.
  • Stay in touch. If a woman has enrolled in a manufacturer-sponsored post-approval study, she should continue to participate. These studies are the best way to collect information about the long-term rates of complications.

Related Posts: 
It’s Happened Again (June 5, 2007)
Breast Implants -- Some History (March 3, 2008)
Silicone vs Saline Breast Implants (March 4, 2008)
Silicone Implants and Health Issues  (March 5, 2008)
Saline or Silicone? (November 18, 2010)
More on Link Between Breast Implants and ALCL (April 25, 2011)
Okay, now I want to rant just a bit about some of the headlines I found on this story.  All of these headlines were under the Google news/health section this morning.  I am not fond of misleading or sensationalized headlines, especially when it comes to health news.  This topic is serious to all women who have implants and they don’t deserve to be misled or inappropriately scared.
I did not read each of the following articles.  I am only commenting on my “gut” reaction to their titles.

Examples of headlines I find appalling:
Celebs who should worry about FDA's breast implant alarm (PHOTOS) (International Business Times)
Hollywood celebrities will not keep breast implants for life (Daily Gossip)
FDA: Silicone breast implants have expiration date (The Imperfect Parent) 
Bummer! FDA Says Women Can't Keep Breast Implants for Life (HyperVocal (blog))
Women who are celebrities are no different when it comes to implants than other women.  No implant has a specific expiration date.  Implants are man-made and wear out over time.  A small percentage fail in the first few years, about 20% fail by 10 years, the other 80% last more than 10 years.
The FDA did not say “women can’t keep breast implants for life.”  The FDA did make it clear that no implant currently on the market has a life expectancy equal to the normal life expectancy for a woman.

These headlines I applaud:
FDA: Silicone Implants 'Mostly Safe' and None Last Forever (33 KDAF-TV)
Silicone implants not a lifetime device (
Both are simple with no fear tactics included.

These headlines I find acceptable:
FDA stands by decision to put silicone breast implants back on market (Los Angeles Times)
FDA Says Silicone Breast Implants Are Safe For Women (SmartAboutHealth)
FDA Leaves Silicone Implants on Market Despite Risks (Wall Street Journal)
Breast Implants Basically Safe but Not Lifetime Devices, Say Experts (ABC News)
Breast implants reasonably safe (Washington Post)
Breast implants 'relatively safe' (BBC News)
FDA urges caution for silicone breast implant recipients (Boston Globe)
FDA Sees No New Safety Signals for Silicone Breast Implants (MedPage Today)
Most women with silicone breast implants need more surgery (
Breast implants safe but not problem-free, FDA says (CBS News)
Silicone Breast Implants Deemed Safe in FDA Side Effects Review (Bloomberg)
Long-Term Complications Likely With Silicone Breast Implants (Medscape)

Does Negative Pressure Promote Wound Healing? -- article review

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

There was a recent EurekAlert which caught my attention:  No healing in a vacuum. 
Negative-pressure wound therapy probably does not promote healing. This is the conclusion of Frank Peinemann and Stefan Sauerland's meta-analysis in the current edition of Deutsches Ă„rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108[22]: 381-9).
The press release actually contained a link to a pdf file of the article (full reference and link below).
Negative-pressure wound therapy (NPWT), also known as vacuum assisted closure,  involves covering the wound with an an airtight film and an adjustable negative pressure is applied using an electronically controlled pump.  The vacuum or negative pressure drains wound exudate.   NPWT is used for chronic persistent wounds and complicated wounds.
The article by Peinemann and Sauerland is a systematic review of the literature (English and German), aimed at  evaluating wound healing and adverse events following NPWT in comparison to conventional treatment in patients with acute or chronic wounds.  From the beginning summary:
We found reports of 9 RCTs in addition to the 12 covered by earlier IQWiG reviews of this topic. Five of the 9 new trials involved NPWT systems that are not on the market. The frequency of complete wound closure is stated in only 5 of the 9 new reports; a statistically significant effect in favor of NPWT was found in only two trials.The results of 8 of the 9 new trials are hard to interpret, both because of apparent bias and because diverse types of wounds were treated.
Data analysis used complete wound closure as the primary endpoint.  This was based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2006 Guidance for Industry definition for complete wound closure as “skin closure without drainage or dressing requirements.”
The following dependent variables were used as secondary endpoints:
● Adverse events, such as death, secondary amputations, fistula formation, and wound infection
● Time to complete wound closure
● Reduction in wound size
● Health-related quality of life.

In the discussion section of the article, some key summaries:
Regarding the primary endpoint of “wound closure” – results were not homogenous.  The authors notes it is currently impossible to be sure that NPWT performs better than control treatments.
Regarding the secondary endpoints
– Most articles reported “time to wound closure”  occurred quicker in NPWT groups.  The authors note “However, there were considerable differences between trials in terms of the methods used to measure and evaluate wound closure; particularly problematic is the fact that no blinding was used when this endpoint was measured.”  So for now, as with the  primary endpoint, it remains undecided.
--  The results on adverse events were not homogenous and varied depending on the specific complications.   For a number of other adverse events no statistically significant difference was detected.
The authors note that most trials of NPWT were conducted in hospitals.  They make this point in regard to the FDA report (3rd reference below):
The FDA recently issued a report on six deaths and 77 other complications that were reported within a two year period in connection with NPWT . All the deaths were caused by acute hemorrhages, and known contraindications for NPWT (e.g. a large blood vessel
exposed) had clearly been overlooked. Many of the deaths occurred in outpatient care or care homes, which highlights the need to monitor therapy.
The authors conclusion:
Although NPWT may have a positive effect on wound
healing, there is no proof that it is either superior or inferior to conventional wound treatment. Further RCTs of good methodological quality are required.

Peinemann F, Sauerland S: Negative pressure wound therapy—systematic review of randomized controlled trials; Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(22): 381–9; DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2011.0381
An introduction to the use of vacuum assisted closure by Steve Thomas, PhD--World Wide Wounds (Last updated: May 2001)
FDA: Serious complications associated with negative pressure; 2009 (last updated 02/24/2011)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dysport or Botox for Crow’s Feet?

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

A new study published online in Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery suggests Dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA) is better for treating Crow’s feet than Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA).
Let’s look at the study which only had 90 patients, all older than 18 years of age (mean age 54½, 77 women), were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, split-face study.
The authors include this history of both products:
….in 2002, the FDA approved Botox Cosmetic (onabotulinumtoxinA) (Allergan Inc, Irvine, California) for the treatment of corrugator-mediated glabellar lines.
Concurrently, another botulinum toxin type A product manufactured by Medicis Aesthetics (Scottsdale, Arizona), Dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA), had been used in other countries since 1991. It was approved for cosmetic use in Europe in 2001, before being approved by the FDA in April 2009 for the treatment of moderate-to-severe glabellar lines.
Today, the cosmetic applications for onabotulinumtoxinA and abobotulinumtoxinA have expanded to the treatment of hyperfunctional lines related to the orbicularis oculi, frontalis, transverse nasalis, and depressor anguli oris, among other muscle groups.
The 90 patients were seen and treated between December 2009 to August 2010. To be included in the study, the men (n=13) and women (n=77) had to have moderate to severe lateral orbital rhytids at maximal contraction and NOT had botulinum neuromodulator treatment to the crow's feet within the prior 6 months.
Other exclusion criteria included: prior face-lift, brow-lift, or blepharoplasty; prior periocular laser or chemical resurfacing; prior adverse reaction associated with botulinum neuromodulator; or a history of degenerative neuromuscular diseases.
Each of the 90 participants were photographed prior to treatment and during each subsequent follow-up visit (posttreatment days 2, 4, 6, and 30).
A standard 5-view photographic series was taken for each patient at rest and at maximal contraction.
Patients and investigator separately assessed the crow’s feet at rest and at maximal contraction on each side, according to a validated 5-point photographic scale (0, no wrinkles; 1, very fine lines; 2, fine lines; 3, moderate wrinkles; and 4, severe wrinkles). This assessment was done prior to treatment and at each follow-up visit.

The treatment consisted of 10 U of Botox on one side of the face while the contralateral side received 30 U of Dysport with treatment sides of the face being randomized by computer-aided software. The recommended dosage ratio of Dysport to Botox varies from 5:1 to 3:1. The article sites the reason for this dosage “recent studies and the clinical experience of the senior investigator point to a 3:1 ratio as being optimal.”
Sixty-seven percent of patients preferred the side treated with Dysport, while 33% of patients chose the side treated with Botox. This difference was statistically significant (P = .002).
On post-treatment day 30, the investigator-assessed efficacy score at maximal contraction averaged 2.60 for the Dysport-treated side of the face and 2.33 for the Botox-treated side (P=0.01).
However, two other secondary end points, investigator and patient assessments of resting lateral orbital rhytids, did not achieve statistical significance (P = .42 and P = .28, respectively).
I would say this is a start in determining which might be better, but it needs to be remembered that this is a very small study and has not been duplicated.
An Internally Controlled, Double-blind Comparison of the Efficacy of OnabotulinumtoxinA and AbobotulinumtoxinA; Kartik D. Nettar, Kenneth C. Y. Yu, Sumit Bapna, John Boscardin, Corey S. Maas; Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2011;Published online June 20, 2011. doi:10.1001/archfacial.2011.37

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shout Outs

Updated 3/2017:  photos and all links removed as many no longer active and it was easier than going through each one.

Shrink Rap is the host for this week’s Grand Rounds.  You can read this week’s Summer Solstice “Hot” edition here.
Shrink Rap is hosting our third Grand Rounds today on June 21, which is the first day of Summer. In keeping with the summer solstice theme, we asked for submissions that have a theme of "hot." However, "hot" may refer to not just  temperature, but also spiciness, luck, passion, anger, popularity, etc.
Our first Grand Rounds in 2007 featured a clicky brain, and the second featured the then-new iPhone 3G, complete with clicky iPhone apps. This time, we've used clicky pictures that exemplify the "hot" theme. . ……..
Yesterday,  NPR ran this  article by Alix Spiegel on inattentional blindness:  Why Seeing (The Unexpected) Is Often Not Believing
……The goal of all this was to answer a question: Is it possible to see something really, really obvious and not perceive it?  …….
When psychologists Chabris and Simons ……..They do research on something called inattentional blindness, or how people fail to see things that are directly in front of them when they're focused on something else. And in Conley they felt they had found a compelling example.  ……….
This topic is important to patient safety as seen in this article:  Inattentional blindness: What captures your attention?
A nurse pulls a vial of heparin from an automated dispensing cabinet (ADC). She reads the label, prepares the medication, and administers it intravenously to an infant. The infant receives heparin in a concentration of 10,000 units/mL instead of 10 units/mL and dies. ……
Expectation has a powerful effect on our ability to pay attention and notice information. If the medication we are looking for comes in a carton with a highly stylized label, we come to expect this presentation every time we look for the medication…….
Dr. Cynthia Bailey has a nice post on sunburn:  What is a sunburn?  
A sunburn tells you that damage and inflammation have happened inside your skin from UV exposure; you exposed yourself to more sun than your skin type can handle…..and there’s simply no good news about it!   ….
In this Sunburn Series I’m going to give you a dermatologist’s explanation of what happens in your skin when you get
  • a sunburn (i.e. why it’s red and hurts)
  • a tan (i.e. how much sun protection you get from one)
I’m also going to give you some helpful information to heal sunburned skin and explain how to prevent ever getting a sunburn again. …….
Dr Val, Better Health, is now hosting a radio show called, "Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones."  It is currently available here on iTunes.  The show has three segments (one about the importance of regular eye exams, one about contact lens care, and one about UV protection for eyes). It's available as a full show (20 minutes) and as individual segments.
Dr. Kathryn Clancy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, answers the question:  Why do we menstruate?
…..I will answer three different ones for you: Why do we menstruate? What did we do back in the day? and What is appropriate today?
Why do we menstruate?
Humans are not the only animals to undergo cycles of growth and regression in our endometrial lining. Yet, only a few animals actually menstruate. Menstruation has occasionally been observed in other great apes (this is the primate group where humans belong, with the chimps, bonobos, gorillas and orangs), and a few other animals. As far as we can tell, everyone else resorbs the lining before growing a new one. It seems to be that those animals who menstruate, do so because the amount of lining they have is greater than what they are able to resorb.  …….
Dr. Lisa, Call Me Dr. Lisa, write about her relationship with her physical therapist:   An S&M relationship for good!  (photo credit)
I’m in a Sadistic/ Masochistic relationship, and I like it.  Now don’t get any crazy ideas, but really I let this guy strap electrodes to my leg, put me in a 40 pound flack jacket and then do exercises, and that is just the beginning.  Yep, I’m talking about my physical therapist.  Still I go back twice a week because he knows what he’s doing and I’m getting better.  ………
I go, I go twice a week.  I spend 3 +/- hours there and I do whatever he says.  My reward, today he had me run on a treadmill.  5 months after my surgery and I’m starting to run again.  I’m well on the road back.  It feels great.  I’m good with this S&M thing we have going on! ……..
Sarah McFarland, Threads Magazine, has a piece announcing:  New Sewing Show, "It's Sew Easy," Starts June 30 on PBS
You may have heard about it through the sewing grapevine, but now it's nearly here - the premiere of "It's Sew Easy" is June 30 on PBS stations across the country. It's great news when a national audience is exposed to the fun of sewing!
"It’s Sew Easy" replaces "America Sews with Sue Hausmann," promising to give faithful viewers a new spin on sewing where America Sews left off.  …….

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sensible Treatment of Warts

Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

I was alerted to this not too sensible way of treating warts (H/T Doctor Grumpy)  --- Security guard tries to remove wart from finger with a shotgun (bold emphasis is mine)
A SECURITY guard from South Yorkshire shot himself in the hand to try to remove a wart from his finger.
Sean Murphy, 38, lost most of his left middle finger after using the stolen 12-bore Beretta shotgun at a garden centre in Doncaster.  ……
But he said: “The best thing is that the wart has gone. It was giving me lot of trouble.”   ………

My post from September 2009 gives much more sensible treatment methods for wart removal.  Here it is: 

I’m sure I don’t see as many patients with common skin warts as my family practice or dermatology colleagues, but these patients still make it to my office.  Sometimes it’s the primary complaint, sometimes it’s an afterthought.  In reviewing the topic, it occurred to me that most patients don’t need to see any of us for this problem.  They mostly need to accept the fact that the treatment takes TIME.  So if you will persist, then you will often be successful without the expense of seeing a doctor.  (photo credit)
Common warts (Verruca vulgaris) are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).  Warts on the hands or feet do not carry the same clinical consequences of HPV infection in the genital area.  It is estimated about 10% of children and adolescents have warts at any given time.  As many as 22% of children will contract warts during childhood.
Common warts can occur anywhere on the body, but 70% occur on the hand.  Often they will disappear on their own within a year.  Even with treatment, warts can take up to a year to go away.
Before heading to the doctor, there are treatments you can try at home:  salicylic acid or duct tape.
When using the 17% salicylic acid gel (one brand name: Compound W), it must be applied every day until the wart is gone.  Only apply to the wart, not the skin around the wart.  This treatment is enhanced by covering the wart with an occlusive water-proof band-aid or duct tape after applying the acid.  It can also be enhanced by gently filing the wart with an emery board daily to remove the dead cells prior to applying the salicylic acid.  Treatment can take weeks to months.  Don’t give up early.
Duct Tape can take weeks or months to be effective.   Apply the duct tape to the wart and  keep it in place for six days.  After removing the tape, soak the wart, and pare it down with a filing (emery) board.  Repeat the above until the wart disappears.  Once again, don’t give up early.
The two  treatments (salicylic acid and duct tape) can be combined.  Apply the salicylic acid liquid to the wart before bedtime.  After letting it air dry for a minute or so,  then apply the duct tape over the wart, completely covering the area. Remove the duct tape the following morning. Each time you remove the tape, you will be debriding some of the wart tissue. Repeat the application each night, until there is no remaining wart tissue.  As with using only one treatment, don’t give up early.
If the above don’t work or you just don’t want to take the time, then you may wish to see your physician for removal.  He can use cryotherapy to destroy the wart.   This method may involve repeated treatment over several weeks.  You can do the following to “get the wart ready for removal” and make the cryotherapy more effective:
  1. Every night for 2 weeks, clean the wart with soap and water and put 17% salicylic acid gel (one brand name: Compound W) on it.
  2. After putting on the gel, cover the wart with a piece of 40% salicylic acid pad (one brand name: Mediplast). Cut the pad so that it is a little bit bigger than the wart. The pad has a sticky backing that will help it stay on the wart.
  3. Leave the pad on the wart for 24 hours. If the area becomes very sore or red, stop using the gel and pad and call your doctor's office.
  4. After you take the pad off, clean the area with soap and water, put more gel on the wart and put on another pad. If you are very active during the day and the pad moves off the wart, you can leave the area uncovered during the day and only wear the pad at night.
If none of the above work, then your wart may need to be removed surgically.  Remember the above all take time, so give them time to work.  Even if the wart disappears with any of the above treatments, it may recur later.

Treatment of Warts; Medscape Article, May 27, 2005: W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPh; Joshua J. Pray, PharmD
What Can Be Done About a Hand Wart That Keeps Reappearing After Removal?; Medscape Article, May 31, 2007; Richard S. Ferri, PhD, ANP, ACRN, FAAN
Duct tape and moleskin equally effective in treating common warts; Medscape Article 2007; Barclay L.
Duct Tape More Effective than Cryotherapy for Warts; AAFP, Feb 1, 2003; Karl E. Miller, M.D.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Arkansas Jurors Find Cancer Therapy a Fraud

Updated 3/2017--  all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

I hope @oracknows, Respectful Insolence, will write more about this. He is much better than I at sussing out fraudulent medical treatments.
I have lived and practiced in Little Rock, AR for over twenty years and I did not know this was in my backyard until my local paper (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) reported on the outcome of the trial last week. The article title caught my eye as I was skimming the news: Jurors: Cancer therapy a fraud, Award in suit is $2.5 million (subscription only unfortunately).
A federal jury awarded $2.5 million in damages Tuesday to a California woman who paid $6,250 to undergo alternative treatments from a Jacksonville woman who promised a “100 percent success rate” in destroying cancerous breast tumors.
Antonella Carpenter, the former Jacksonville woman who has since moved to Broken Arrow, Okla., and continues to proclaim on her website that she has found a simple, painless way to kill cancerous tumors, wasn’t present for the verdict against her and her company, Lase Med Inc. …….
I don’t recall every hearing of Lase Med Inc: LIESH Therapy.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Therese Westphal, 54,
a mother of three sons, said she read about the treatment in a flier she found in a health-food store in California where she went to research nontraditional cancer treatments shortly after being diagnosed in September 2007 with a 2 1/4-inch tumor in the upper right corner of her left breast.
A local oncologist, Bill Tranum, MD, testified Westphal had a 75% to 90% chance of beating the cancer immediately after being diagnosed, the delay dropped her chances to 20%.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article notes Carpenter refers to herself on the website as a “doctor.”
Bond (Will Bond of the McMath Woods law firm in Little Rock) says she’s not a medical doctor, but claims to have a doctorate in physics, possibly from an online university.
A local television station, KTHV, has a segment (open access) on the trial: Company defends laser treatments, despite loss in court
….."I am a physicist. I never claim to be a medical doctor, that's why the patients come to me because those are the ones who want alternative," Carpenter said.
It's an alternative using lasers to kill cancerous tumors. Carpenter says the heat activated in the process does the job.
"Elevated temperature, the tumor reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is the temperature sufficient to kill the tumors. I have the science that backs it," Carpenter said. ….

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rooster Quilt

This miniature quilt is made using a feed sack which held rice.  The rooster logo is framed by a black and then a red/black sash.  The quilt measures 10.5 in X 12.75 in.  It is machine pieced.  It is machine and hand quilted.

This photo shows the rooster and quilting better.  The rooster is quilted with cross-hatching while the outer area is an intertwined cable.  These were hand quilted.  The area next to the black strip was machine quilted “in-the-ditch.”
The back has a sleeve for hanging.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Impact of Obesity on Breast Surgery Complications – article review

 Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

Obesity is an ever increasing presence in today’s world.  Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults are now estimated to be obese (BMI>30), up from just 15% three decades ago.
Obesity increases the risk of complications in many medical/surgical situations which has pushed some Ob-Gyns in Florida to refuse to care for pregnant women over a certain weight.
Martin A. Makary, MD and colleagues designed a study to measure the impact on complication rates in obese patients presenting for a set of elective breast procedures.
The PRS journal article referenced below has been published online ahead of print and looks at the impact obesity has on breast surgery complication.
The researchers used claims data from seven Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans covering individuals with employer-provided coverage and residing in Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and South Dakota to identify a cohort of obese patients and a non-obese control group who underwent elective breast procedures covered by insurance between 2002-2006.
Criteria for the patient  to be included:
Enrolled in the insurance plan for at least one month before and after surgery
Have a paid claim for breast augmentation, breast reduction, breast lift (mastopexy), or breast reconstruction during the period between 2002-2006
Have either 1) a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater, 2) a diagnosis of obesity (using ICD 278.x or V85.x code closest to the date of surgery), or 3) at least one comorbidity associated with obesity (diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, or gallbladder disease) within one year of undergoing the breast procedure
There were 2,403 patients (mean age 42.1 yrs)  in the obese group who were compared to a non-obese control group of 5,597 patients (mean age 48.4 yrs).  Breast reduction was the most commonly performed procedure in the obese and control groups (80.7% vs 63.8%), followed by breast reconstruction (10.3% vs 24.2%), augmentation (4.0% vs 8.9%), and mastopexy with or without augmentation (5.0% vs 3.2%).
Overall, 18.3% of obese patients had a complication compared to only 2.2% in the control group (p<0.001). After adjusting for other variables, the researchers found obesity status increased the odds of experiencing a complication by 11.8 times.
Among the obese patients, at least one complication was observed in 50.5% of patients undergoing breast augmentation (vs. 4.4% of controls), 24.1% undergoing mastopexy (vs. 11.4%), 38.9% mastopexy with augmentation (vs. 5.6%), 29.4% of reconstruction (vs. 1.8%), and 14.6% of breast reduction patients (vs. 1.7%).
The differences between the two groups were most pronounced
in complications such as inflammation (OR=22.2), infection (OR=13.4), pain (OR=11.7), the development of seroma (OR=11.4) and hematoma (OR=10.9).
Obesity status  increased the odds of experiencing a complication (OR = 10.1, adjusted 11.8).  Diabetes (OR = 1.37, adjusted 1.16) and a history of prior chest wall irradiation (adjusted OR = 1.4) were associated with a higher odds of complication.
Hypertension, COPD, a history of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and undergoing a bilateral procedure were not significantly associated with the development of complications.
Makary and colleagues write in their discussion (bold emphasis is mine):
Our data demonstrate that obesity is a major risk factor for complications following elective breast procedures. In light of current trends towards pay-for-performance-based reimbursement, although obesity is currently not accounted for in quality metrics, based on our study, it increases the odds of experiencing any complication within a 30-day postoperative period by 11.8 times. This is in marked contrast to previous studies, which showed either no significant difference in complications between
obese and non-obese patients undergoing elective breast surgery, or just a slight increase.
Although pay-for-performance strives to reward healthcare providers for meeting certain performance measures for quality and efficiency, there is no guarantee that the measures being used accurately reflect the quality of surgical care being provided. For example, the current assumption behind pay-for-performance is that high-quality care reduces surgical
complications.  Our results suggest that variations seen in the rate of complications may be, in part, related to the characteristics of the population--in this case, body habitus. These complications could even occur despite adherence to process measures such as administering appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis. Thus, any measure of quality should consider the effect of obesity on these measures.

The Impact of Obesity on Breast Surgery Complications; Chen, Catherine L.; Shore, Andrew D.; Johns, Roger; Clark, Jeanne M.; Manahan, Michele; Makary, Martin A.; Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery., POST ACCEPTANCE, 9 June 2011; doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182284c05

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New FDA Sunscreen Labeling

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the new rules regarding labeling of sunscreen.  The goal is to make it easier for the average person to chose a sunscreen. 
The new labels will not be in place until next summer, so you need to be aware.
When the new labels are in place, NO sunscreen will be allowed to be labeled as a SUNBLOCK or as WATERPROOF.  
Under the new labeling rules
  • Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test.
  • Only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.
  • A warning statement will be required on any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14 stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, the FDA released a Proposed Rule which would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +”, because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.
Sunscreens who use the claim of being water-resistant will be required to note how long the product resists being rinsed away while swimming.  In other words, will it rinse off within 15 minutes in the water or last 2 hours.  It is important to remember, no sunscreen is “towel resistant” and can easily be removed toweling off.  It is important to reapply your sunscreen.
It is recommended that a sunscreen labeled as both broad spectrum and SPF 15 be used to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.  Both types of radiation contribute to skin cancer and premature skin aging.  Sunburns are primarily caused by UVB rays, so simply preventing of a sunburn doesn’t necessarily mean good protection from future skin cancer.
Proper Use of Sunscreen: 
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside.  Reapply every two hours when outside at a beach, etc. for adequate protection.
  • Use enough. To ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full.
  • Reapply after getting out of the water or toweling off. Even "water-proof" sunscreens are not usually "towel-proof".
  • Use even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. In addition, sand reflects 25% of the sun's rays and snow reflects 80% of the sun's rays.
  • Don't forget to apply lip balm with SPF 15 or higher.

Other Sun Safe Practices:
  • Staying in the shade, especially between the sun’s peak hours (10 a.m. - 4 p.m.).
  • Covering up with clothing, a brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths.

ABC News has a nice piece:  Consumer Reports Health Rates Sunscreens
After testing 22 spray-on, cream and lotion sunscreens, Consumer Reports gave top honors to the least-expensive products.
The magazine recognized three "Best Buys" that provided excellent water-resistant protection for less than 88 cents per ounce: Up & Up Sport SPF 30 by Target; No-Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E SPF 45; and Equate Baby SPF 50.  ……..

Related blog posts:
Sun Protection (March 19, 2009)
Melanoma Review (February 25, 2008)
Melanoma Skin Screening Is Important (April 29, 2009)
Tanning Beds = High Cancer Risk (August 3, 2009)
Skin Cancer (March 24, 2010)
Safety of Sunscreens (June 14, 2010)
Dear 16-Year-Old Me (May 18, 2011)

FDA Press Release; June 14, 2011;  FDA Announces Changes to Better Inform Consumers About Sunscreen
FDA:  Sunscreen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let’s Paint the World Red

Kudos to all blood donors.  Today is World Blood Donors Day!

Around 92 million blood donations are collected annually from
all types of blood donors (voluntary unpaid, family/replacement and paid). Approximately half of these blood donations are collected in high-income countries, home to 15% of the world’s population.
There are three types of blood donors: voluntary unpaid; family/replacement and paid. Voluntary unpaid blood donors are vital for ensuring a sufficient, stable blood supply.  Kudos to you all!
World wide, the greatest number of donors are younger than 25 year of age  (45% of all donors).  This isn’t the case in the United States.   Here those younger than 25 make up only 22% of all donors.  The age group with the greatest percentage of donors in the U. S. is  the group of  45 to 65 year olds (40%).
World wide, women make up only 40% of all donors.  In the U.S., the division is almost equal:  49.9% men/ 50.1% women.
The American Red Cross states every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.  More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.  Because blood can not be manufactured, it take blood donors.
All blood types are needed, but types O-negative, A-negative and B-negative are needed most.
So “let’s paint the world red.”  The world needs new and repeat blood donors to give blood.  Blood is the “gift of life.”

General Guidelines About Blood Donation

You must be healthy and be at least 17 years old. You must weigh at least 110 pounds. "Healthy" means that you feel well and can perform normal activities. Just because you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure does not mean you are un-eligible to donate. "Healthy" in light of a chronic condition means that you are being treated and the condition is under control.
Other aspects of each potential donor's health history are discussed as part of the donation process before any blood is collected. Each donor receives a brief examination during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood count (hemoglobin or hematocrit) are measured.
To learn more blood donation opportunities, visit or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543).

Related posts:
The Gift of Life (November 18, 2007)
Give Blood -- It's the Gift of Life  (August 1, 2009)

Shout Outs

Updated 3/2017:  all links removed as many no longer active and it was easier than checking each one.

David, Health Business Blog, is the host for this week’s Grand Rounds.  You can read this week’s edition here.
When I first hosted Grand Rounds six years ago, the iPhone, iPad and Twitter didn’t exist, and Facebook was not yet available to the general public. Barack Obama had not appeared on the scene and there was no discussion of the Affordable Care Act. Yet a lot of the topics in that edition would be familiar to today’s reader including firearms, RomneyCare, patient safety and Google. Two blogs (InsureBlog and Clinical Cases) that were featured in that early edition are featured here, too.. ……..
Yesterday,  NPR ran this  article by Carrie Feibel:  Heart With No Beat Offers Hope Of New Lease On Life  (photo credit)
The search for the perfect artificial heart seems never-ending. After decades of trial and error, surgeons remain stymied in their quest for a machine that does not wear out, break down or cause clots and infections.
But Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier at the Texas Heart Institute say they have developed a machine that could avoid all that with simple whirling rotors — which means people may soon get a heart that has no beat.   ……….
Clink Shrink, Shrink Rap, offers a thoughtful post on involuntary treatment:  Are We Not Thugs?  (read the discussion in the comments)
The voice at the other end of the line was angry and accusatory: "You didn't even talk to me! You never knew my son! You didn't talk to any of us!"
I explained to her that since she had never even met the defendant, there was no way she could have any information that would be relevant to the accused's state of mind at the time of the crime. The victim and the defendant were total strangers and there was no apparent reason for the killing, which made the crime even more tragic. Her son was dead in a random incident, in a crime that was unquestionably motivated only by the defendant's untreated psychiatric symptoms.    …….
Dr Val, Better Health, is now hosting a radio show called, "Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones."  It is currently available here on iTunes.  The show has three segments (one about the importance of regular eye exams, one about contact lens care, and one about UV protection for eyes). It's available as a full show (20 minutes) and as individual segments.
This essay (or article) from Stefany Anne Goldberg, The Smart Set, was in my local paper this past Sunday.  As that source is subscription only, I found it elsewhere to share with you.  The essay is Can You See Me Now? Welcome to Deaf-World
The 19th-century poet Laura Redden Searing, who happened to be Deaf, wrote a story about a lonely bird with crippled wings who comes upon the Realm of the Singing.    …..
What Deaf people have realized about themselves in the last century is that being Deaf opens up a new mode of experience. And ASL is the language of that experience. Deaf people were creating their own world. But it was a world they would have to defend.

The newly published The People of the Eye sets out to define the Deaf-World and to fight for it. Where Deaf activists have spent decades arguing that deafness is not a defect but a character trait — a benefit even — The People of the Eye goes a step further. It asserts that Deaf is an ethnicity.  …….
A few responses to the NY Times article by Karen S. Sibert:  Don’t Quit This Day Job
@medrants:  Medrants: Women in medicine - different strokes for different folks
@palmd: From the Underground NYT: Women are ruining medicine
I've written before about many of the challenges faced by women in medicine.  As more and more women enter medicine, there is a cultural shift struggling to be born.  ……….
As a society and a profession, we have to decide to take the role of women seriously. If we demean women's role in our profession, we may be more likely to demean our female patients and family members.
Richard L. Reece, MD (Medinnovation):  Health Reform, Women Physicians, and the Doctor Shortage
@scutmonkey:  Psychology Today:  The Mommy Wars, Medical Edition
Leah, Free Motion Quilting, is one of the quilting blogs I follow.  She was recently listed as one of Quilter's Home Top 55!
Whoo Hoo! I was listed in the top 55 blogs by Quilter's Home Magazine!
Click here to read the magazine article and check out all the different blogs listed
This is crazy cool because one of the sort of kick butt moments of my life was when my Dad picked up a Quilter's Home magazine 2 years ago that had a similar blog and website list.
So is Barbara Brackman’s Material Culture blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Museum Exhibit: Violence, Women, and Art

 Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

I stumbled upon the news of this exhibit when I visited the CDC’s website and clicked on the button  “CDC Museum.”    Did you know the CDC had a museum?  Well, I don’t think I was aware of it.
This exhibit opened June 6th and will run through September 9, 2011 at the CDC’s Global Health Odyssey Museum.  The exhibit, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art, focuses on the prevention of violence against women. 

The work of 28 contemporary artists from 24 countries is presented.  The art works address the issues of violence against women and girls around the world and their basic human rights to a safe and secure life.
Among the artists featured in Off the Beaten Path are: Yoko Ono (Japan), Louise Bourgeois (France), Wangechi Mutu (Kenya), Mona Hatoum (Palestine), and Hank Willis Thomas (USA).
The project which I was able to view online is powerful, emotional.  The exhibit can be viewed online:  Off the Beaten Path virtual exhibition (link no longer active, 3/2017)
or you can attend in person at the Global Health Odyssey Museum.  Their hours are Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM with hours extended on Thursday to 7 pm. The museum is closed on all federal holidays.

Some of the CDC’s quick facts on violence against women:
About one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating violence each year.1
About one in four teens reports verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual violence each year.2
About one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.3
Each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. Men are the victims of about 2.9 million intimate partner related physical assaults.4
Intimate partner violence (IPV) resulted in 2,340 deaths in 2007. Of these deaths, 70% were females and 30% were males.5
The medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity (e.g., time away from work) cost of IPV was an estimated $5.8 billion in 1995. Updated to 2003 dollars, that's more than $8.3 billion.6, 7

Related post:
Domestic Violence  (May 11, 2010)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Under the Tree

The batik used in the center of this quilt was a lone square of fabric which I didn’t want to cut up.  I felt lucky that it had the nice scene featured.  I noticed I had just enough of the border print I used for the inner frame.
The quilt is machine pieced and quilted.  It measures  9 7/8 in X 9 5/8 in. 
Here you can see how I used dark green thread to make the metallic tree and figures stand out even more.
The outer border fabric is a black print which looks gray/black but photographs blue/black.
The back has a sleeve for hanging.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Advances in Surgical Treatment of Facial Nerve Paralysis in Children – an article review

 Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

I read the second article below first.  I was struck by the opening paragraphs of Daniel Alam, MD’s commentary which note the importance of smiling in human communication and how it is often taken for granted EXCEPT by those who have lost the ability to smile.
This is far from the case for patients who have lost the ability to smile. Patients who have endured facial paralyses (even in the transient cases that occur in certain idiopathic facial nerve palsies, ie, Bell palsy) understand the true psychological effects of this disability. …...
I can attest to this on a personal level having had Bell’s palsy in 2002.  I have a quilt I’d like to make, a personal portrait ala Picasso, that would reflect the way it affected me.  I can’t seem to get it worked out yet, but will.
Back to these articles.  Alam commends Hadlock and colleagues (the first article below) for not just relying on emotional checks from the patients who often feel any improvement is a great result (bold emphasis is mine):
… Although this report is another well-designed clinical series of a well-established surgical technique, the true significance of this work extends far beyond the patients presented. ….This group, more than any other in facial plastic surgery, has made a concerted effort to quantify (to measure and validate) the outcomes they report. …
With that recommendation went looking for the Hadlock’s article.  
Hadlock and colleagues begin with background information which notes “free muscle transfer for facial reanimation has become the standard of care in recent decades and is now the cornerstone intervention for dynamic smile reanimation.”
While myriad muscles have been transferred into the face to restore the smile, most large series describe the use of the gracilis muscle, the latissimus dorsi muscle, or the pectorals minor.  Of these, the gracilis muscle is the most widely used, based on predictable pedicle anatomy, an acceptable donor deficit and scar, and favorable muscle microarchitectural features resulting in fast and robust excursion when activated.
Hadlock and colleagues used their SMILE program to objectively measure the functional outcome of 17 pediatric patients who had undergone 19 consecutive pediatric free gracilis transplantation operations.  The procedures were done over a 5-year period from October 2004 through September 2009.  The mean age of the patients was 11.5 years (range, 4-18 years).
All patients were prospectively administered the Facial Clinimetric Evaluation (FaCE) instrument which is a validated, standardized QOL instrument for patients with facial movement disorders.   Hadlock’s article referenced the Laryngoscope (3rd reference below) article for FaCE.
Hadlock and colleagues results
The mean commissure excursion improvement was 8.8 mm ± 5 mm (Figure 4), commensurate with the findings in other facial reanimation series.   When subdivided into those driven by a cross-face nerve graft vs those driven by the masseteric branch of the trigeminal nerve, the latter provided more excursion on average, as expected.
There was only one muscle failure in the series.  It resulted from an arterial thrombosis.
In conclusion:
In conclusion, free gracilis transfer for smile reanimation in children carries an acceptable failure rate, significantly improves smiling, and seems to improve QOL with respect to facial function. It should be a cornerstone intervention in the appropriately counseled patient and family. Because it carries a lower failure rate than a similar cohort of adult patients, there is no need to wait until patients reach adulthood to offer dynamic reanimation. Early facial reanimation provides the advantage of permitting children to express themselves nonverbally through smiling and may in fact lead to fewer negative social consequences as they interact with peers.

1.  Free Gracilis Transfer for Smile in Children:  The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Experience in Excursion and Quality-of-Life Changes; Hadlock TA, Malo JS, Cheney ML, Henstrom DK; Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2011;13(3):190–194; doi: 10.1001/archfacial.2011.29
2.  Advances in Surgical Treatment in Facial Nerve Paralysis in Children (commentary); Daniel Alam, MD; AMA. 2011;305(20):2106-2107;  doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.689
3.  Validation of a patient-graded instrument for facial nerve paralysis: the FaCE scale; Kahn JB, Gliklich RE, Boyev KP, Stewart MG, Metson RB, McKenna MJ; Laryngoscope. 2001;111(3):387–398.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Updated 3/2017-- photos and all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. 

As you may know, I sew.   I grew up sewing many of my own clothes.  Now it’s mostly quilts, but I still occasional make an item of clothing.
It’s always fun to imagine how a certain pattern would work on the intended person (me, a friend, a niece, etc), how it would look in this fabric, this color, this print.
Always fun to imagine where you might wear the new dress, the new shirt, the new skirt.  Always fun to imagine how you might accessorize it.  Imagine the new shoes you might need.
Burda has a sewing blog I follow.  Yesterday one of their posts was title:  6 New Patterns in Sizes 44-52.  I was hopeful the featured models would be the same sizes.  They didn’t.  (photo credit)
Even worse, the models aren’t even shown wearing the pattern (inset) featured. 
Now, while I can look at the inset and imagine how it might look on me, in this fabric or that, in this color or that, what I really want to imagine is wearing the lovely dress on the right.
Wouldn’t it have been much more fair to a size 44-52 women who wants to look her best to feature the pattern made in the appropriate fabric on a woman her size?
I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Here’s a sampling of the comments:
by lila-1:  Aside from the fact that you have modeled the ‘plus size’ designs on skinny girls (wth??), the majority of these patterns are bordering on muumuus
by Julianne Dodds:  I can’t really weigh in (ha!) on if these are good styles for plus-sized gals cause I don’t see any examples :P
I wish all women were a healthy size, athletic and active,  but we aren’t.  Pattern companies, as well as clothing manufactures, should provide appropriate models.  Size 2 – 6 models when selling to size 44 is NOT appropriate.

Check out Dr. Val’s recent post on Accepting Different Body Types, But Not Embracing Obesity

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shout Outs

 Updated 3/2017:  all links removed as many no longer active and it was easier than going through each one.

Grand Rounds continues to be on hiatus.  If you would like to host a future edition of Grand Rounds send an email to Nick Genes (you can find his contact info at here).   The most recent edition can be found here at Medgadget.  Other editions can be found here on the Grand Rounds Facebook page.
Kim, Emergiblog, is the host of the latest edition of Change of Shift (May 2011)! You can find the schedule and the COS archives at Emergiblog.
Welcome to the latest edition of Change of Shift, the nursing blog carnival!
…..Let’s get started!
Sue Hassmiller is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Advisor for Nursing. She is also a volunteer with the Red Cross. Abandonment Guilt, her final blog post from tornado-ravaged Alabama, can be found at AJN’s Off the Charts.
Best. Post. EVER! From BabyRNDeb at Life and Times of an L&D Nurse. What a difference One Year can make!
Over at oncRN, “the silence needs to be listened to and honored.”   …….
H/T to @palmd  for the link to this article by  @stevesilberman:  23 amazing writers offer me tips on writing a book.  Here are just a few:
Bill Wasik (Author of And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture) --
The first tip is that readers expect books to be exhaustive on their subjects. That doesn’t mean they want the books to be long ….
Deborah Blum (Author of The Poisoner’s Handbook and Ghost Hunters)  -- …..the best advice i got in writing narrative non-fiction was to get my hero in trouble and keep him there. …..
Sylvia Boorstein (Author of Happiness is An Inside Job and It’s Easier Than You Think)  -- …..Do not read other people’s work on the same subject. That might be hard for you, since you are collecting research data, but I say very little about what other people have said or thought. They’ve already said or thought it. ….
Kerri (@sixuntilme)  who will soon be a 25 year Medalist shares a Video from the Joslin 50 Yr Medalists.   Amazing and inspiring.  Go check it out.
To be a Joslin Medalist, you need to mark 25, 50, or 75 years with diabetes.  (Well, technically, you get a certificate at the 25 year mark, but it's definitely a milestone to celebrate.)  And over the weekend, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Joslin's medalists who have spent over 50 years with type 1 diabetes. 
……  These generous medalists allowed me to listen to their stories, and offered a few sage words of advice into my video camera. …..
Not only is this year the 30th Anniversary of HIV/AIDS, but Margaret Polaneczky, MD (TBTAM) reminds us it’s also the 40th anniversary of the seminal journal article on DES – An Endocrine Disruptor
An interesting NEJM article on the 40th anniversary of the seminal journal article on The DES Story serves as a potent reminder of the potential effects of exposure to endocrine disruptors during critical times in development.
Beginning in the early 1960′s DES, a synthetic estrogen compound, was given to women in early pregnancy to prevent miscarriages. Females born from these pregnancies had an increased risk of a rare vaginal cancer during childhood, increased rates of uterine malformations that can cause infertility and premature birth, and are at a moderately higher risk for breast cancer. Use of DES in pregnant women stopped in the early 1970′s.  . ……….
What great news this week regarding the treatment of melanoma.  Check out this NY Times article by Andrew Pollack:  Drugs Show Promise Slowing Advanced Melanoma
Two new drugs have been found to prolong the lives of people with advanced melanoma, representing what researchers say is notable progress against the deadly skin cancer after decades of futility.
The drugs represent success in two new approaches to combating cancer: one by attacking a specific genetic mutation that accelerates tumor growth; the other by unleashing the body’s immune system to fight the disease  ……….
The drugs do not cure melanoma, except perhaps in rare cases.   …………
Shared by @DrVes on twitter:  The days of his life: NY photographer takes Polaroid picture every day for 18 yrs until his death from cancer at 41 (photo credit)
What started as a project, quickly became an obsession for one New York photographer, who managed to take a Polaroid picture every day for 18 years.
Jamie Livingston took his first snap of then girlfriend Mindy Goldstein and a friend on March 31 1979.
Six thousand shots later the series ends tragically on 25 October 1997 with Mr Livingston on his deathbed from cancer on his 41st birthday.  ……….
To see the whole collection go to
I read about this quilt by Cathy Ott in my local Sunday paper but it’s subscription only online and there was no photo with the article.  So I googled it and found this Journal Sentinel article which had a photo (the one below):   Military uniforms across decades go into gift of quilt
Zach Radtke didn't notice right away when a few of his Army uniform patches went missing.
The next time the Army Reservist saw them, they were on a beautiful quilt made by his girlfriend's mother. Five different Army uniforms spanning several decades make up the quilt.
When Cathy Ott came up with the idea for her military camouflage quilt she calls "The Boot," she didn't need to do much shopping for old military uniforms. She just opened her closet. ……