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Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats
May 26th, 2014
05:07 PM ET

Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats

Advertisements for cancer centers are inflated with emotions, but fail to disclose the fine print, according to a study released Monday. The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institute of Health, examined 409 unique TV and magazine advertisements from top media markets.

With more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year, the direct-to-consumer ads pushing to various cancer centers across the country, and specific cancer treatments, are increasing.

A systematic content analysis of these ads found that the content is sharply directed at a would-be patient’s heartstrings:

  – 85% made emotional appeals to consumers
  – 61% used language about hope, extension of life, or a cure
  – 52% touted innovative, or advanced technology or treatments
  – 30% evoked fear by mentioned death, fear, or loss

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'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine
January 20th, 2014
11:18 AM ET

'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine

When Jahi McMath suffered severe complications following a tonsillectomy, and doctors declared her brain dead, many parents were shocked.

More than 500,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the United States; it's the second most common pediatric surgery. But how routine are these procedures really?

Not so much, a new study published Monday in the scientific journal Pediatrics suggests. Researchers found the quality of care before, during and after a tonsillectomy varies greatly depending on the hospital.

When routine surgeries go wrong

"We were surprised at the degree of variation between hospitals in the use of medications ... and revisits to hospitals after the surgery for complications," said lead study author Dr. Sanjay Mahant.
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Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks
Research indicates that delivery should not be scheduled before 39 weeks of gestation, the CDC says.
April 10th, 2013
03:53 PM ET

Fewer moms having C-sections before 39 weeks

Moms can be convinced to change their minds about having their babies before they are at full term, according to a study released this week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

For years, medical groups have been encouraging moms to wait until their baby has remained in utero for 39 weeks. At the same time, the number of women choosing to induce labor or have an elective cesarean section for nonmedical reasons has been rising.

Just last month, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reiterated its recommendations, encouraging moms to avoid early elective deliveries. FULL POST


Celebrating 100 years of surgery
The ACS anniversary timeline can be found online at FACS.org.
October 1st, 2012
09:56 AM ET

Celebrating 100 years of surgery

When the American College of Surgeons was formed in 1913, "infection rates were high, blood supplies were almost non-existent, tools were fairly crude, standards were lax, and patients were rightfully scared," according to an announcement of the organization's 100th anniversary.

Since then, surgery has made significant strides - many of which are shown in the interactive timeline launched by ACS this week in celebration of the centennial milestone.

The ACS was founded to improve the quality of care for surgical patients by setting better standards for education and practices, says president-elect Dr. Brent Eastman.  More than 78,000 surgeons worldwide are members of the professional group.

From the first blood bank opening in Chicago in 1937 to the first complete face transplant surgery in Boston in 2011, the ACS has been at the forefront of many medical breakthroughs.  But Eastman and the ACS fellows aren't dwelling on the past; even as they celebrate their history, they're looking to the future.
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September 19th, 2012
05:14 PM ET

Finally, quiet for man who could hear workings of his own body

A 44-year-old man in Dartmouth, Massachusetts can finally hear normally after a decade of being tormented by the sounds of his own body.

For 10 years, Manny Pavao was afflicted with superior canal dehiscence syndrome, caused by a tiny hole in the bone that separates the inner ear from the brain.

All day, Pavao would hear everything from the beating of his own heart to the movement of his eyes, which he describes to CNN affiliate WCVB as a grating sound, like "rubbing sandpaper on a piece of wood back and forth." FULL POST


Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery
Dick Clark had a heart attack just a day after having prostate surgery, a procedure that an expert says is “exceedingly safe.”
April 24th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Hollywood producer and television legend Dick Clark died of a heart attack a day after having prostate surgery, according to a death certificate obtained by CNN.

Clark died last Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The day before his death, he had an operation to relieve “acute urinary retention,” an inability to urinate.

“It’s a very painful condition,” says Dr. Kevin McVary, professor of urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The operation is “exceedingly safe” according to McVary, a spokesman with the American Urological Association.

“The mortality rate is less than one in 1,000. That’s very low risk,” he says.
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March 27th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

36-hour face transplant 'most extensive' ever

A 37-year-old man received an extensive face transplant stretching from his hairline down to the neck, including a jaw, full set of teeth, tongue and cheeks. The surgery essentially replaced most of the patient’s face except for his eyes and the back remnant of his throat.

Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia, is the 23rd patient to receive a face transplant in the world.  His doctors at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center say this operation is the most extensive surgery of its kind because of the extent of the transplant and the placement of an entire set of teeth.

“The face will look like a blend of the donor as well as Richard,” said Dr.Eduardo D. Rodriguez, associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “There are some unique features, his nose, the chin that have been replaced in entirety. Other than that, it’s a combination of both individuals.”

The hospital did not release details about the anonymous donor, due to the family's request.  The family specifically consented to the face transplant procedure.  His heart, lungs, liver and kidneys were used to save the lives of five other patients, according to the hospital.

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Bypass surgery bests angioplasty for long-term survival
March 27th, 2012
09:38 AM ET

Bypass surgery bests angioplasty for long-term survival

Older people with heart disease who undergo non-emergency procedures to restore blood flow to their heart generally have better long-term survival odds with bypass surgery than with angioplasty, according to new research published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included about 190,000 men and women over age 65 who had bypass surgery or angioplasty - a far less invasive procedure - between 2004 and 2008. One year after the procedures, the survival rates for both groups hovered just under 94%. At the four-year mark, however, 84% of the bypass patients and 79% of the angioplasty patients were still alive.

The difference in survival rates was consistent across several key subgroups of patients, including men and women, high- and low-risk patients, and those with and without diabetes, the study found. FULL POST


Student doctors practice on you while you sleep
October 10th, 2011
09:24 AM ET

Student doctors practice on you while you sleep

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

Autumn. The air turns cool and crisp, leaves change color, and third-year medical students descend on hospitals to learn to be real doctors… by practicing on real people.

As a plastic surgeon, part of my job includes the art of suturing. Over the past 15 years, I’ve repaired more than 10,000 cuts, incisions, bites, and wounds.

I’ve seen it all — people who’ve been sliced by beer bottles, attacked by wild animals, and even injured by — I want to be delicate here — “personal, intimate devices.” I’ve done so much suturing that sewing up people has become second nature. I can repair a dog bite to the face blindfolded.
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Anesthesia use in kids linked to learning disabilities
October 3rd, 2011
11:57 AM ET

Anesthesia use in kids linked to learning disabilities

When your kid needs surgery, your response is probably, “Do whatever is necessary to fix him NOW. We’ll worry about later, later.” But it turns out that putting a child under anesthesia may increase the risk of long-term damage to his or her ability to think.

A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that exposure to anesthesia before age 2 may manifest in a form of cognitive impairment called apoptotic neurodegeneration. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, the researchers found no greater risk in those subjects who had only been “put under” once. Multiple exposures to surgery/anesthesia, on the other hand, significantly increased the risk of developing learning disabilities later on in life.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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