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

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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Keys to Preventing Lyme Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 6, 2014

Interactive training, including games, appeared to help children improve their confidence and ability to prevent Lyme disease.

It is often said that “knowledge is power.” Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) rheumatologist Dr. Nancy Shadick, however, has discovered that knowledge alone is not enough when it comes to effectively preventing Lyme disease,a tick-borne infection that can cause neurological and joint problems.

Through her research, Dr. Shadick has found that increasing knowledge about Lyme disease is a good start, but that we also need to proactively increase people’s motivations and readiness in order to change their behaviors. That’s why her team developed interactive programs to not only increase people’s knowledge about the disease, but also heighten the sense of their susceptibility and the potential consequences of the disease, promote the perception that taking preventive measures will provide worthwhile benefits, and, most importantly, increase people’s confidence that they can do something on their own to prevent it (self-efficacy).

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Cord Blood: Life Sustaining, Life Saving

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

Cord blood collection is a safe procedure for both mother and child.

Did you know that babies are born with a precious, potentially life-saving resource?

By donating your baby’s umbilical cord blood, the same blood that helped sustain your child while in the womb, you are providing something that could save the life of a patient with leukemia, lymphoma, or another type of life-threatening genetic disease. This is because cord blood has an abundance of blood-forming stem cells. These cells can be collected, preserved, and later transplanted to an adult or pediatric patient to help treat their disease. Building a bank of this resource is critical, as 70 percent of patients who need these cells don’t have a family member who is a matching donor.

It’s important to emphasize that cord blood collection is a free, medically safe procedure for both the mother and child, and the procedure doesn’t change the birthing process. The blood is collected from the cord after the baby is born, and no blood is taken from the baby. If the cord blood isn’t collected, this valuable resource is thrown away.

Mothers with a singleton pregnancy (one child) and who have no history of cancer or tuberculosis are eligible to donate their baby’s cord blood through the BWH Cord Blood Donation Program. Talk to your doctor, midwife, or nurse if you’re interested in donating. If you have further questions, please e-mail us at CordDonor@partners.org.

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Double Arm Transplant Candidate Hoping for Independence

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

Will Lautzenheiser has been approved as a candidate for a bilateral (double) arm transplant.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) announced at a recent press conference that Will Lautzenheiser, 39, a former professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University and Montana State University, has been approved as a candidate for a bilateral (double) arm transplant.

Will became a quadruple amputee in 2011, when doctors in Montana removed his limbs 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.

“After losing my limbs, I haven’t been able to do anything spontaneously,” said Will. “It might take me 20 minutes to get dressed using prostheses.” He added that often “other people have to be my hands.”

A successful arm transplant, however, has the potential to significantly restore a patient’s self-reliance. “What we are hoping to provide is independence, something that no prosthesis really can achieve at the present time,” explained Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, Director of the BWH Plastic Surgery Transplantation Program.

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Eating after Bariatric Surgery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 24, 2014

After bariatric surgery, you’ll be introduced to a diet that features gradual changes in food textures.

You’ll have to start eating differently after having weight loss surgery, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up all your favorite foods. Let’s start by talking about how things will be different.

Your stomach acts as a holding tank for food and beverages and as a strong muscle that grinds and churns your food, helping with digestion. Depending on the procedure, weight loss surgery either removes a large portion of your stomach or significantly restricts access to your stomach. And, as you can imagine, reducing the capacity of your stomach makes it much harder for it to do its job.

To help your stomach adapt to this increased workload, you’ll be introduced to a staged diet that features gradual changes in food textures. You’ll drink protein shakes for two weeks and then slowly advance to soft foods for four weeks. With time, you should be able to tolerate a variety of textures, as long as you eat slowly and chew carefully. For more information on the post-operative (and pre-operative) diet, see the Nutrition Resources section of our Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery site.

Surgery + You = Weight Loss

Weight loss surgery alone doesn’t ensure that you’ll lose weight and keep it off. You also will need to change the way you eat for the rest of your life in order to be successful. This means reducing your calorie intake by eating small portions and avoiding calorie-packed foods and beverages. Fortunately, your modified stomach is a built-in portion control tool, so all you have to do is put healthy foods on your plate and stop when your stomach is full.

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