Double Arm Transplant Recipient Gives Thanks

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 25, 2014

Double arm transplant recipient Will Lautzenheiser demonstrates what he can do with his new arms.

Befitting the spirit of this week’s holiday, today’s story exemplifies both gratitude and giving.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) announced at a press conference today that Will Lautzenheiser, 40, a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University, is the recipient of a bilateral (double) arm transplant. Last month, a team of 35 clinicians, including 13 surgeons, worked for nearly nine hours to transplant a donor’s arms – above the elbow on his left side and below the elbow on his right side. The team precisely joined bones, arteries, muscles, tendons, veins, and nerves of the donor’s arms together with Will’s.

Will became a quadruple amputee in 2011when doctors in Montana removed his limbs to save his life, which was in jeopardy due to necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), a life-threatening Group A streptococcal infection. Since that time, Will has struggled to manage with prosthetic (artificial) limbs. With his transplanted arms, however, Will expects to be able to perform everyday tasks quicker and without the aid of others, and to gradually regain his sense of touch.

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Women and Lung Cancer

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2014

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States. For women, it accounts for more deaths than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined. Consequently, medical researchers have been working hard to increase our understanding of lung cancer and help us better prevent, diagnose, and treat the condition.

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Lung Cancer Screening Helps Current and Former Smokers

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 5, 2014

Dr. Francine Jacobson

Lung cancer, the most frequent cause of cancer death in this country and around the world, continues to be an important public health epidemic. The American Cancer Society projects that by the end of this year alone, there will have been 224,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the U.S., and 159,000 Americans will have died from the disease.

Most, but not all, cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking. Thus, the most important thing that people can do to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer is to quit smoking, or better yet, never start.

For current or former long-term smokers, lung cancer screening should be a priority. Research has shown that new screening guidelines for the use of low-dose computed tomography (CT)  should significantly reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer by improving early detection. In the following video, thoracic radiologist Dr. Francine Jacobson provides more details about the benefits of low-dose CT scans and who should get screened.

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OR of the Future – Merging Precise Imaging with Precise Surgery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 4, 2014

AMIGO houses a vast array of advanced imaging equipment and interventional (minimally invasive) surgical systems.

The Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a state-of-the-art medical and surgical research environment that houses a vast array of advanced imaging equipment and interventional (minimally invasive) surgical systems. Multidisciplinary teams of specialists use the suite’s advanced technology and unique design to efficiently and precisely guide treatment — before, during, and after surgery — without the patient or medical team ever leaving the operating room.

The AMIGO suite gives physician-researchers an optimized setting for innovatively merging imaging and surgery to improve standard clinical procedures and to develop new therapeutic approaches. With the primary goal of improving the effectiveness of patient care, success already has been demonstrated in several treatment areas, including: image-guided therapy in open brain surgery, radiation treatment of prostate cancer and gynecological tumors, breast-conserving therapy, MRI-guided cryoablation (destroying diseased tissue via extreme cold), treatment of atrial and ventricular fibrillation, and brain tumor laser ablation (destroying diseased tissue with focused heat). In the following video, Dr. Steven Seltzer, Chair of the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Dr. Michael Zinner, Chair of the BWH Department of Surgery, offer an inside look at the AMIGO suite and detail its potential for improving the effectiveness of image-guided therapy.

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What’s a NICU Mom Thankful For?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 16, 2014

The boys celebrate their first birthday with NICU nurses Kathy Moran (left) and Mary Ellen Musynski.

The breadth of medical expertise and advanced technology available in a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is invaluable for treating and monitoring babies born with dangerous medical conditions. But helping these babies and their parents involves much more than providing state-of-the-art medical care.

Karyn, a North Shore mother of triplets born at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), is well aware of the scope of care provided in a NICU. She’s thankful for all the people who helped take care of her triplet sons – and her – while the boys recovered in the BWH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the fall of 2012. That includes people she saw nearly every day and people she never saw at all.

Her boys Tyler, Caleb, and Nathan were born at 27 weeks that fall. As expected with any child born that early, they all had issues with lung development, breathing, and feeding.

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Prostate Cancer Care – Determining Risk Is Key

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 14, 2014

Dr. Anthony D'Amico

Prostate cancer  is the second most common and deadly cancer among American men. About 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about 1 in 33 men will die from the disease.  Yet, despite the disease’s potential dangers, many men diagnosed with prostate cancer shouldn’t be treated aggressively, and others shouldn’t be treated at all (but still be closely monitored). This is why Dr. Anthony D’Amico, Chief of the Prostate Cancer Radiation Oncology Service at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, says that determining a prostate cancer patient’s risk level is critical to determining their treatment. Watch the video below to learn more.

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Heart Failure Treatment Continues to Evolve

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 7, 2014

Ventricular assist devices soon may exist entirely within the body.

Heart failure patients have benefited greatly from treatment advances developed during the past several decades, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has long played a key role in this evolution of care. This includes the discovery that an ACE inhibitor could immediately stop the progression of heart failure and the first successful implantation of a total artificial heart in New England.

Dr. Mandeep Mehra, Executive Director of the BWH Center for Advanced Heart Disease, says that today’s heart failure patient has a number of options for effectively repairing, replacing, or recovering their heart function, and the future of heart failure care is similarly bright. Among his expectations is the gradual shrinking of ventricular assist devices, which will soon exist entirely within the body without the need for an external power source or any other external component. In the video below, Dr. Mehra further details how heart failure treatment has developed over the past 30 years and what we can expect for tomorrow.

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Imaging Technique May Reduce Need for Follow-Up Breast Cancer Surgery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 2, 2014

The researchers' new breast imaging approach will be tested in the AMIGO suite.

Currently, up to 40 percent of patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery to treat cancer require re-operation because of a failure to remove all of the cancerous tissue during the initial operation. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers, however, have successfully tested an innovative tissue imaging approach that accurately distinguishes cancerous breast tissue from normal breast tissue and precisely defines the margins between the two – an advance that could significantly decrease the need for follow-up surgery.

The tool the researchers used for their study is called desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry imaging, a technology that allows physicians and researchers to promptly evaluate human tissue. It works by electrically charging (ionizing) molecules in a tissue sample through the application of a microscopic stream of solvent. The mass of these ionized molecules is then measured and their distribution within the tissue is mapped.

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Food Allergy – Advancing Care and Knowledge

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 30, 2014

Jessica R. Savage, MD, MHS

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and throughout the world continue their quest to explain the dramatic rise in the number of people diagnosed with food allergy over the past 20 years. Although certain risks for developing food allergy have been identified, such as genetics and environmental factors, the root cause or causes behind this dangerous condition’s upsurge have yet to be clearly defined.

There have been, however, advances in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment, including promising research findings. Among this research are the successful testing of an oral immunotherapy that gradually builds a patient’s tolerance of an allergenic food and increasing evidence that exposure to antimicrobial chemicals increases a child’s risk of developing allergies.

In the video below, the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy’s Dr. Jessica Savage examines theories about why food allergies have become so prevalent in our society and what is being done today to help individual patients with this increasingly common immunological condition.

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Unhealthy Impact of Differences in Generic Pill Appearances

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 26, 2014

Generic versions of the same prescription drug may look significantly different in both shape and size.

All generic drugs are approved by the FDA as being interchangeable with each other, and studies show that they have similar clinical effects. However, depending on the manufacturer, generic versions of the same prescription drug may look significantly different in both shape and size. Not surprisingly, these inconsistencies can cause problems for consumers.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers recently studied the activity of a large group of patients who recently suffered heart attacks and found that variations in the appearance of generic drugs were associated with a greater risk of patients stopping their essential post-heart attack medications.

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