Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Removing Uterine Fibroids Without Major Surgery

As women get older, their bodies undergo a lot of changes. By the time they reach the age of 40 to 50, most African American women are at risk of having uterine fibroids. These are tiny muscular tumors found in the wall of the uterus. Usually, they are as small as apple seeds, but in rare cases can grow as big as a baby's head. Uterine fibroids are not cancerous and seldom have symptoms. But for those who gets heavy bleeding, enlargement of the lower abdomen, painful and disruptive symptoms, they can have them remove through surgery known as hysterectomy.

Statistics show that every year, about 600,000 women undergo hysterectomy. A third of these cases are due to uterine fibroids. Recently however, a new treatment is developed involving minimal surgery. UFE, or Uterine Fibroid Embolization, is a procedure that makes use of real-time imaging to guide a catheter in releasing tiny particles into the uterine arteries, blocking blood flow to the fibroids that eventually die and shrink.

Almost 90 percent of women who undergo UFE experience relief and improvement of symptoms. However, this procedure is usually offered to women who no longer wish to become pregnant.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Friday, February 12, 2010

Treating Scoliosis With Stem Cells

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine whereby the natural curve of the spinal column becomes deformed. Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend surgery to correct the curve. Usually, a spinal fusion is done by grafting a bone taken from the iliac crest. The problem with this procedure is that it is very painful and the pain can become permanent.

A new procedure in treating scoliosis is said to be less painful. Using stem cells taken from the patients' own bone marrow, they serve as catalyst for the growth of the new bone. Permanent screws and rod are then fused together to correct the curve.

It is important that scoliosis is detected on its early stage. People with severe scoliosis may experience difficulty in breathing and heavy pressure in their lungs. If the curvature of the spine is more than 70 degrees, the ribs press against the lungs and reduce oxygen level. As it reaches 100 degrees or more, the lungs and the heart become prone to injury, which may lead to infections and pneumonia.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Painless Vaccines: No Need For Needles

I'm afraid of needles. I knew I'm not the only one who have a phobia on needles. I guess, even those who say that they are afraid of doctors or hospitals are actually afraid of the possible administering of injections for treatment. Obviously, needles are always associated with illness, medicine, and pain.

When it comes to vaccine, it seems that the only procedure is to get a shot. Not anymore. A team of medical researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University have collaborated to develop a painless flu vaccine.

The technology is called microneedles which, unlike the traditional syringe and needle, allows the vaccine to penetrate into the skin and muscles intra-dermally. It is a patch-like device that contains microscopic needles coated with the flu vaccine. The patch can be used like a regular bandaid, and after awhile, it can be disposed. It is convenient, hassle-free, and painless.

The technology is very promising and potentially effective in eliminating “belonephobia,” the fear of needles.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Merging Of Man And Machine

Creating better prosthetics could benefit not only the many wounded soldiers from war missions, but also millions of civilian survivors from tragic accidents. Today's prosthetics have become interactive that it becomes like the real thing.

While traditional prosthetic limbs remain static as the patient moves, the latest bluetooth technology allows for interaction between the patient and his bionic part. It is designed with advanced sensors to detect the patient's movement, so much so that it loosens or tightens as it adjust to the patient's stride. Electrodes are attached to the end of the patient's limb which pick up signals from the muscles around it and are sent to a computer chip inside the patient's limb.

To give patients even more control, a new technology is being developed that will allow these prosthetics to detect pressure and feel hot and cold temperatures. The success of these technologies definitely opens up a whole new possibilities in the future of amputees.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Friday, February 5, 2010

Immunotherapy To Stop Prostate Cancer

One of the most common diseases to hit the male population is prostate cancer. While some cases seem harmless as they develop so slow, about 30 percent of those who've been diagnosed carry a more aggressive type of prostate cancer. Meaning to say, the cancer has already started spreading throughout the body.

Based on studies, the cancer grows more rapidly in the presence of testosterone. That is why hormone treatments help in stopping the production of testosterone, if not outright removal of the testicles by surgery. If these treatments don't work, chemotherapy comes in next.

As scientists continue to find ways to treat prostate cancer, a new option is being developed through immunotherapy, a treatment that allows the immune system to fight against cancer cells with the help of a vaccine. In an experiment involving 125 male adults, those who were treated with the PRSTVAC-VF vaccine lived eight to nine months longer than those who were given placebo.

While it is still too early to conclude about the validity of the experiment, the success of this phase 2 stage should lead to an experiment with a larger population to further test the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante