Walk from Obesity – Raising Awareness

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 26, 2016

This year's Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

This year’s Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

For years, Sheila Fitzgerald of Dedham, MA, has participated in the Walk from Obesity. Two years ago, she was among the top fundraisers in the country. Her focus last year, however, was more on raising awareness than raising money.

“I think it’s important to talk about obesity and educate people,” says Sheila.

She wants others to be more informed than she was. A lack of understanding is why it took her so long to consider weight loss surgery, she explains. The need for a knee replacement, however, pushed her to learn more about surgical options for weight loss.

Staying Active

Sheila has always been active, even when she was overweight. However, severe pain in her left knee caused her to cut back on her exercise. She sought counsel from Dr. Anthony Webber, an orthopedic surgeon at BWFH, who advised her that she should get a knee replacement. Otherwise, she would become sedentary – a prospect that she feared.

“That freaked me out,” says Sheila. “I was active, and I wanted to stay active.”

Despite being apprehensive about undergoing weight loss surgery, she signed up for an information session. She asked a lot of questions at the session and soon learned that weight loss surgery would be a sensible treatment for her obesity.

After being evaluated by Dr. Scott Shikora, Director of the CMBS, and other BWH specialists, it was determined that she would be a suitable candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure involves removing the outer crescent of the stomach, an area where a major hormone that regulates appetite is produced. The procedure also reduces the capacity of the stomach to hold food by about 75 percent. Along with promoting weight loss, the sleeve gastrectomy is believed to be particularly effective at treating certain metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Shikora performed Sheila’s weight loss surgery in January 2014. Since that time, she has lost 80 pounds and no longer has sleep apnea. Those benefits also have come with no complications.

In November 2014, Dr. Webber performed Sheila’s knee replacement. Her knee feels great today, and she is back to being her active self.

Sheila also is now an informed advocate of weight loss surgery.

“It has changed my life,” says Sheila. “I would recommend it. I have recommended it.”

– Chris P.

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Growing New Cartilage in Novel Clinical Research Study

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 2, 2015

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andreas Gomoll

An active 34-year-old and new father, Sean has been sidelined from physical activity for nearly a year and a half due to severe knee pain. Ten weeks ago, he underwent surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) to implant stem cells derived from the donated umbilical cords of healthy babies to repair a cartilage defect in his knee. The procedure was performed as part of a clinical trial, and BWH is one of only two hospitals in the nation to participate.

“For young patients like Sean, knee replacement is just not a good option,” says Dr. Andreas Gomoll, an orthopedic surgeon who is leading the trial at BWH. “Current options, such as using cartilage cells harvested from the patient’s knee or donor tissue, are good, but they have limitations that we are trying to improve upon with these new stem cell transplants.”

Sean was interviewed by WCVB-TV during his most recent follow-up appointment with Dr. Gomoll to discuss his recovery and plans for the future.

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Countdown to the New Year – Top Ten Posts for 2014

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 31, 2014

The blog team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is counting down to the New Year by revisiting our top 10 blog posts published in 2014, beginning with number ten. We’d also love to hear from you – what were your favorites? Thank you for your comments, questions, and continued interest in HealthHub. We wish you a healthy and happy New Year.

#10 – Video – Comprehensive Spine Care

Certain spinal conditions, such as back pain, are very common. However, treating these conditions can require the expertise and coordination of more than one medical specialty. Often, the first step is conservative, non-operative treatment by physiatrists, pain management physicians, and other specialists. Learn how our surgical and non-surgical spine specialists collaborate on care for patients with spinal disorders.

#9 – Improving Joint Replacement:  Consultation through Recovery

Based on the work of the Care Improvement Team, led by orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Wright, Brigham and Women’s Hospital uses a standardized approach to total knee replacement that guides how patients should be treated, from the time they arrive at the hospital for a consultation to the care they receive after discharge. This process has improved patient outcomes.

#8 – Colorectal Cancer: Do Men and Women Have Different Symptoms

Risk factors for colorectal cancer — which include age, family history of the disease, or having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — are similar for men and women. However, lifestyle choices that may impact the risk can differ between men and women. These include obesity, lack of physical activity, low vitamin D, and consuming a high amount of red meat.


#7 – Should You Go without Gluten?

Many people are becoming increasingly concerned about eating foods containing gluten. Gluten is responsible for the reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine in celiac disease. It also has been linked to less serious gastrointestinal complaints, such as diarrhea and bloating. Read more about how gluten can affect your health and the benefits of avoiding it.


#6 – Keys to Preventing Lyme Disease

Dr. Nancy Shadick, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and her team have developed entertaining, interactive programs to increase people’s knowledge about Lyme disease, the consequences of the disease, and prevention techniques. Play the game to learn how you can prevent Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection that can cause neurological and joint problems.

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Too Young for a Knee Replacement?

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

For younger patients, cartilage repair may be a viable alternative to knee replacement surgery.

While knee replacements are occasionally performed in some patients as young as in their 40s, there are many patients with cartilage damage in their knees who are too young or active for a knee replacement.

“For younger, active patients with isolated damage, repairing cartilage in the knee may be a good alternative to partial or total knee replacement,” says Dr. Andreas Gomoll, an orthopedic surgeon in the Cartilage Repair Center, directed by Dr. Tom Minas, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The average age of our patients is mid-30s, but we’ve also treated many teens and some patients in their 50s.”

In autologous chondrocyte implantation, or ACI, healthy cartilage is surgically harvested from the patient’s knee, cultured to grow additional cells, and then surgically implanted in the area of diseased cartilage to regenerate. ACI is often combined with procedures to address the root cause of cartilage damage, such as malalignment of the knee cap.

“Cartilage transplantation essentially helps build healthy cartilage in the knee to reduce pain and increase mobility in patients, but we also identify and correct any underlying causes of the damage first,” explains Dr. Gomoll. “We have performed many cartilage repair procedures – even among elite athletes – and have seen excellent results.”

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Innovative Knee Replacement Process Gets Patient Back on His Feet

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 13, 2013

Knee replacement patient Rick Litavis (center) enjoys a post-surgery family stroll.

With three torn ligaments and no cartilage left in his right knee, 49-year-old Rick Litavis of Hopkinton, MA, had two options – continue to live in pain and suffer through sleepless nights, or get a knee replacement.

Rick was ready for relief.

And thanks to surgical expertise, teamwork, and an innovative approach to improving knee replacement outcomes, Rick was not only pain-free within days after his January 2013 operation, but also walking and biking within weeks.

“I was completely floored,” says Rick. “The first night after my surgery I was standing, the next day I was using a walker without pain, and I was home the day after that.”

After playing football at Northeastern University, Rick continued to play competitive, high-impact sports throughout his 20s and 30s. But such a lifestyle also comes with risks, and Rick managed to severely injure his right knee several times over the years.

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Knee Replacement Surgery – Keys to a Quicker Recovery

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 20, 2012

knee replacement process improvement

New knee replacement practices – before, during, and after surgery – are improving patient outcomes.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Wright specializes in both performing knee replacement surgery and improving knee replacement surgery.

Dr. Wright performs roughly 300 knee replacement procedures each year – well above the regional average – and this significant experience leads to exceptional results. But Dr. Wright and his team have discovered that experience is not the only way to improve outcomes.

When Dr. Wright isn’t treating patients, he’s working on research dedicated to improving the entire knee replacement process – before, during, and after surgery. He leads a Care Improvement Team at BWH that has applied his research findings to change conventional knee replacement practices. This has resulted in improved patient outcomes, including less post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays, and a quicker return to daily activity.

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Will Younger Patients Outlive Their Knee Replacements?

Posted by Blog Administrator March 28, 2012

injured knee might need surgery

More people at increasingly younger ages are receiving knee replacements.

When a medical procedure suddenly becomes commonplace, it’s hard to know if it’s a good news story or a cause for concern. Consider knee replacements, which Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) research shows have become increasingly common in recent years.

For anyone who has suffered from the symptoms of severe knee osteoarthritis, today’s relative ease of access to knee replacement surgery is good news. (Most knee replacements are performed to treat osteoarthritis – the breakdown of cartilage in joints.) On the other hand, artificial knees are typically expected to last only about 15-20 years, which could be a problem for the increasingly youthful patients now opting for the surgery.

In 2009, the number of total knee replacement surgeries performed in the U.S. reached more than 600,000, double the number completed a decade earlier. Perhaps more surprising to researchers, however, was the disproportionate growth in knee replacements among younger patients – those aged 45 to 64. With this recent upsurge in patients receiving knee replacement surgery earlier in life, 1 in 20 adults aged 50 or older now can claim an artificial knee. The research was led by Elena Losina, co-director of the Orthopedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research at BWH.

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