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December 13, 2006, 5:07 AM CT

Acid Reflux Disease Linked To Obesity

Acid Reflux Disease Linked To Obesity
As per a new article in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRD), more usually known as, acid reflux, is associated with obesity. Since (GRD) is strongly linked to more serious conditions, such as esophageal ulcers and cancer, weight reduction treatment may be useful in therapy and prevention of these conditions.

"The condition is very common, but prior studies have not been successful at pinpointing risk factors for the condition," says Douglas Corley, author of the study. "Because we evaluated the results of 20 studies on the subject, we were able to better identify and understand the association between obesity and acid reflux."

In a nation becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of obesity, this new finding provides yet another reason to discuss weight management with a physician. "We know that an increase in body weight increases the chance of having heartburn and acid reflux, which can increase the risk of esophageal ulcers and cancer," says Corley. "While we can't say at this time that weight loss treatment is definitely the solution to this condition, it certainly warrants further research as a therapy".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 29, 2006, 5:09 AM CT

A Sense Of Touch For Robotic Surgery Tools

A Sense Of Touch For Robotic Surgery Tools Allison Okamura demonstrates her lab's scissor-based surgical simulator.
By substituting mechanical instruments for human fingers, robotic tools give surgeons a new way to perform medical procedures with great precision in small spaces. But as the surgeon directs these tools from a computer console, an important component is lost: the sense of touch.

Johns Hopkins scientists are trying to change that by adding such sensations, known as haptic feedback, to medical robotic systems. "Haptic" refers to the sense of touch.

"The surgeons have asked for this kind of feedback," says Allison Okamura, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins. "So we're using our understanding of haptic technology to try to give surgeons back the sense of touch that they lose when they use robotic medical tools".

Okamura is a leading researcher in human-machine interaction, especially involving mechanical devices that convey touch-like sensations to a human operator. In recent years, she has focused on medical applications as a participant in the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology, based at Johns Hopkins. With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the NSF, she has established a collaboration with Intuitive Surgical Inc., maker of the da Vinci robotic system used in a number of hospitals for heart and prostate operations.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:19 AM CT

First Robot-assisted Weight Loss Surgery

First Robot-assisted Weight Loss Surgery
UT Southwestern Medical Center surgeons are the first in North Texas to perform robotically assisted laparoscopic gastric-bypass and colon-resections surgeries.

The procedures were performed using DaVinci, a four-armed robot controlled by the surgeon via a joystick. DaVinci can provide better camera views and more precise surgical manipulations than are available in traditional laparoscopic surgeries.

The robot can offer easier access to some of the more inaccessible places in the body such as abdominal and gastrointestinal areas. As a result, laparoscopic surgeons expect the robotic procedures to grow in popularity for colon, gastric and esophageal operations, said Dr. Edward Livingston, chairman of GI/endocrine surgery.

Surgeries for colon cancers are on the rise, while gastric bypass procedures also are becoming more common.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in America with more than 106,000 new cases in 2006.

Gastric bypass has become more popular as obesity among the nations population increases. More than 140,000 gastric bypass procedures are performed annually in the United States.

Laparoscopic surgeries, also called minimally invasive surgeries, are performed via several tiny holes rather than one long incision. This commonly results in fewer complications, shorter recovery times and less post-operative pain.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 9:48 PM CT

NSAID and Liver Damage

NSAID and Liver Damage
Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency isn't a term that rolls right off the tongue. But people diagnosed with this genetic disorder learn its potential effects well. They know they shouldn't smoke or be around smokers because they are at increased risk for developing emphysema at a young age. In addition, some patients with alpha-1-antitrypsin (AT) deficiency can develop serious liver disease. But predicting which of them are at risk for liver disease is still not possible.

Now research performed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sheds light on the mechanisms that contribute to liver disease in alpha-1-AT deficiency patients. Using an experimental mouse model of the disorder, the scientists investigated the effects of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) on liver injury. An estimated 15 to 20 million people in the United States take NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen on a long-term basis.

The findings, reported in the recent issue of the journal Hepatology, show that the NSAID indomethacin (Indocin), administered at doses typically nontoxic to mice, significantly increased liver damage in the experimental mice.

The mice carried a mutated form of the human alpha-1-AT gene (called the alpha-1-ATZ gene), the most common form of the gene linked to the development of liver disease in people with alpha-1-AT deficiency. Greater expression of the mutant alpha-1-ATZ gene and increased amounts of alpha-1-ATZ protein in the liver accompanied the increase in liver injury in the experimental mice given the NSAID.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


November 15, 2006, 4:38 AM CT

Holiday Season Could Ring In 'Heartburn Season'

Holiday Season Could Ring In 'Heartburn Season'
Making merry is often synonymous with overindulging whether from holiday feasts or rich desserts or alcoholic beverages ringing in the holiday season as "heartburn season".

Heartburn generally caused by naturally occurring acids splashing back up from the stomach is often marked by a characteristic burning sensation that sufferers describe as rolling up into their chest. Fatty foods play a starring role in this process.

"Most of the time heartburn is a nuisance, not a tremendous threat to your health," said Dr. Stuart Spechler, professor of internal medicine in digestive and liver diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "I tell most of my patients that it's going to be a tradeoff is the food going to taste good enough to suffer through the heartburn?

"If you know you're going to eat something that ordinarily gives you heartburn, there are medications that you can take before eating that food that might help".

Prevention now emphasized

For decades, the plop-plop-fizz-fizz approach of antacids taken after people already were experiencing heartburn was the only treatment available. Emphasis has since shifted to prevention.

Those who are planning to indulge in foods likely to cause them heartburn can now take a histamine receptor blocker (H2 blockers), which slow the production of stomach acid and are generally available over the counter.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


November 13, 2006, 7:39 AM CT

Bariatric Surgery Complications

Bariatric Surgery Complications
In-hospital bariatric surgery complication rates vary dramatically among the nation's hospitals, as per a research studyreleased recently by HealthGrades, the leading healthcare ratings company. The study of 86,520 bariatric-surgery procedures performed over the years 2002 through 2004 finds that a typical patient receiving the procedure in a five-star rated hospital would have, on average, a 66 percent lower chance of developing one or more major inhospital complications compared with a one-star rated hospital.

Based on the study, HealthGrades, for the first time, today posted quality ratings for hospitals in 17 states that perform bariatric surgery on its consumer Web site, HealthGrades.com. Hospitals received a five-, three- or one-star rating that reflected their complication rates for bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, obesity surgery and gastric-bypass surgery.

The HealthGrades study comes on the heels of a study published in July by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which observed that four of every ten patients undergoing bariatric surgery develop complications within six months.

The percentage of U.S. adults who are obese has doubled in the last thirty years, reaching 30 percent as per the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. The number of bariatric surgeries in America are increasing dramatically as well, with the volume growing 34 percent from 2002 to 2004 in the 17 states studied. Experts attribute a growing proportion of the nation's healthcare bill to overweight and obesity, reaching 9.1 percent of U.S. medical costs, or $78 billion, in the most recent study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 27, 2006, 4:43 AM CT

Gene Target Against Crohn's Disease And Ulcerative Colitis

Gene Target Against Crohn's Disease And Ulcerative Colitis
The discovery by a six-member Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Genetics Consortium of a genetic risk factor for IBD has been reported in Science Express, the online publication of the journal Science. As per one of the Canadian principal investigators, director of the Laboratory in Genetics and Genomic Medicine of Inflammation at the Montreal Heart Institute, Dr. John D. Rioux, "This discovery may lead to a paradigm shift in our thinking from 'genetics of diseases to genetics of health', especially as concerns Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis." This discovery was, in part, due to the contributions of the gastroenterologists of the Quebec IBD Genetics Consortium led by Dr. Rioux and Dr. Alain Bitton of the McGill University Health Centre.

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, describes two similar yet distinct conditions called Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These diseases affect the digestive system and cause the intestinal tissue to become inflamed, form sores and bleed easily. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue and diarrhea.

Crohn's disease may affect the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus, and while Crohn's disease can not be cured by drugs or surgery, either may relieve symptoms.

In Canada, an estimated 170,000 Canadian men and women suffer from IBD, most frequently between the ages of 15-25, or 45-55. It is especially difficult for children and young adults since it often affects a person's self-concept. IBD is found throughout the world. However, it appears to be most common in North America and northern Europe; Canada having one of the highest incidence rates of IBD in the world. (1) In the U.S., more than 1 million Americans have Crohn's or colitis.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


October 25, 2006, 4:32 AM CT

Report On The Future Of Gastroenterology

Report On The Future Of Gastroenterology
The field of gastroenterology is changing and practitioners must embrace the advances and new technology to ensure their practice evolves with the field, as per a report released by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute's Future Trends Committee. The report, "The Disappearance of Screening Colonoscopy and the Transformation of Gastroenterology Practice," was developed from a consensus conference held in April 2006 and reported in the recent issue of Gastroenterology

As a leader in gastroenterology, the AGA Institute convened the consensus conference to study possible impending changes to the field and guide development of a strategy to help gastroenterologists better prepare their practices and careers for the future.

Despite the diversity of current gastroenterological practices ranging from physicians in small private practices to those in larger groups and academic medical centers all practitioners face similar challenges in the future: the forces of increasing demands for services, the pressure to limit or curtail healthcare expenditures, and technological advances. The changes may create stress for gastroenterologists; however, by preparing now for the future, the AGA Institute works to ensure that the science and practice of gastroenterology will continue to thrive and flourish.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


October 24, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Genetic Variations Aspirin And Colon Cancer

Genetic Variations Aspirin And  Colon Cancer
Dartmouth scientists are among a team of doctors that have learned more about how people may or may not benefit from taking aspirin in the effort to curb colon cancer. Their study, which appears in the Oct. 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, finds that the beneficial effect of aspirin may be limited to individuals who have a specific genetic variation in their ODC gene.

"There is evidence that aspirin and related anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the risk of colorectal adenomas [polyps] and cancer," says Elizabeth Barry, a research assistant professor of community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, and one the authors of the study. "And with this study, we looked closer at the impact of aspirin in people who have a higher risk of developing colorectal adenomas, which lead to cancer, by examining their ODC genotype. So now we know that aspirin appears to work better in people who have this slight genetic variation, and this finding could potentially be clinically useful in the future by allowing physicians to predict which individuals are likely to benefit from aspirin use for colorectal cancer chemoprevention".

The scientists studied 973 subjects over three years as part of the Aspirin/Folate Polyp Prevention Study. In a randomized manner, some were given aspirin and some were given placebos. Almost half of the participants carried one or two copies of the ODC genetic variation. The study observed that there was no association between carrying the genetic variation and the occurrence or new adenomas, but the genotype did influence the effect of aspirin on adenoma development. Those with the ODC genetic variation were 23 percent less likely to develop new adenomas and 49 percent less likely to develop more advanced lesions, which also lead to cancer.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source


October 24, 2006, 5:47 PM CT

Virtual Colonoscopy More Expensive

Virtual Colonoscopy More Expensive Image courtesy of Mayo clinic
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center scientists have observed that "virtual" colonoscopy using a computer tomography (CT) scanner is considerably more expensive than the traditional procedure due to the detection of suspicious images outside of the colon.

"Virtual colonoscopy will certainly play a role in the future of colon cancer screening," said gastroenterologist Richard S. Bloomfeld, M.S., M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and a member of the research team. "It is important to understand the implications of findings outside the colon before we advocate wide-spread use of this technology".

Virtual colonoscopy, also known as CT-colonography (CTC), was developed at Wake Forest Baptist. It allows doctors to use Computerized axial tomography scanners to look at the colon to detect polyps (small growths in the colon that may become malignant if they are not removed) and cancers. Virtual reality software allows them to look inside the body without having to insert a long tube (conventional colonoscopy) into the colon or without having to fill the colon with liquid barium (barium enema).

Research performed at Wake Forest Baptist and elsewhere has shown that CTC is better able to see polyps than barium enemas and is nearly as accurate as conventional colonoscopy. Most patients report that CTC is more comfortable than either procedure.........

Posted by: Sue      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
The number of bariatric surgeries performed in the U.S. increased by 450 percent between 1998 and 2002, a growth the scientists say could be linked with use of the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique, according to an article in the recent issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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