Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #4: Bioabsorbable Stents

4. Bioabsorbable Stents Coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the most common cardiovascular disorders that carry a high risk of morbidity and mortality if left untreated. Patients usually present with a sudden onset of severe chest pain and possible difficulty breathing, among other symptoms. Many of these individuals suffer from a host of comorbidities, including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, COPD, and diabetes. Stable angina, comprising of chest pain on exertion that subsides on resting, eventually progresses to unstable angina in these patients due to complete closure of one or more coronary arteries in the heart, impeding blood flow.     The current standard of treatment for these patients is percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The procedure involves threading a catheter up through the patient’s femoral artery in the groin to the coronary artery in question in order to carry out a balloon angioplasty to expand the arterial diameter followed by potential deployment of a metallic stent that keeps the artery expanded to allow proper blood flow. However, this procedure does come with substantial risks and post-operative complications, such as the need to stay on anticoagulant drugs for prevention of blood clot formation, restenosis of the artery, stroke, and death.   Since 2011, there has been a surge of interest in bioabsorbable stents, which are made from biodegradable polymers that eventually leave the body as foreign material after they have run their...

Preparing to Apply to Medical School

Wondering if a career as a physician would be a good fit for you? Applying to medical school is a long road and it’s important to make sure that it’s right for you BEFORE you apply.  Here are a few things to think about when deciding if medicine, or any career, is the right one for you: 1. What do you love? 2. What are you good at? 3. What can you be paid for? 4. What does the world need?   Most would agree that a career as a physician comes with a reasonable salary and is definitely something the world needs.  However, is it something that you love and/or would be good at? To figure this out, you should work with pre-health advisors (available at many undergraduate institutions) as well as find a mentor in the field of medicine. Make sure this mentor is someone who has the time to get to really know you and can guide you in the right direction. After you find a mentor or two, it’s good to get involved in a wide range of opportunities that can introduce you to different aspects of healthcare such as research studies, volunteer experience with clinical patients and leadership/advocacy roles.  When choosing what kind of activities to get involved in, it’s important to remember not only to go broad but to also go deep and show...

Warm Up for your Workout Using Science

Go to any gym and you’re bound to hear “locker room talk” on the age-old issue facing men and women alike – what’s the best way to warm up before you exercise? Static stretching, dynamic stretching, dynamic warm-ups, re-warm-ups, at what intervals… everyone has an opinion. However, Hammami et al have published a review in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness attempting to answer just this question.   The authors searched for peer-reviewed studies from 1995-2015 in PubMed, ScienceDirect and Google Scholar and found 27 relevant articles. Twenty-two of the articles looked at warm-up effects on soccer performance and 5 articles examined performance with or without re-warm-ups during play. In the review, dynamic warm-ups were found to increase many factors such as “strength, jump, speed and explosive performances.” The review found additional performance benefits from re-warm-ups among soccer players at halftime in order to reduce postactivation potentiation, no matter how much or how little the players were on the field.   Image: Source   Moreover, the authors found that static stretching reduced subsequent performance. Other studies, such as Amiri-Khorasani et al., in the Journal of Human Kinetics, found significant increases in speed after dynamic stretching when compared to static stretching, while Behm et al., in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, found a similar though smaller effect. These studies and others like it add more data to a...

How Augmented Reality is Changing Medical School

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that combines the real world with computer generated enhancements, such as sound, video, and graphics to literally augment the world around you. I’m sure we’re all aware of the most recent phenomenon that attracted kids and adults alike to wander around streets and parks for elusive Pokemon. PokemonGo is the perfect example of augmented reality in action and used for a mainstream purpose.   This same technology that puts a cartoon Pikachu in the real grass in front of you is now being put to use in medical schools. This could completely change the way med students learn about anatomy and physiology. Students would be able to interact with a 3D representation of the human body, making it easier for students to transition to actual patients.   Image: Source   Cool, right? Check out the video below to see the technology in action!   Video: Source   3D4Medical‘s newest product, Complete Anatomy Lab (CAL), has the potential to completely transform the way medical students study anatomy and physiology. The software, with a little help from hardware, can place 3D representations of the human body in any space. The 3D models are composed of over 6,500 interactive body structures, complete with descriptions, related lectures, and other useful study tools the user can summon at any time.   The technology may help reduce the number of...

Is IBM’s Watson The Future Of Medical Decision Making?

Ever since soundly winning Jeopardy! in 2011, IBM’s Watson has been quite busy.   Besides soundly beating out members of Congress in an untelevised Jeopardy! match, Watson also became possibly the smartest second-year medical student of all time. But like any bright medical student, Watson didn’t just stop there.   IBM recently announced the development of two paradigm-shifting projects, WatsonPath, a diagnosis and education program, and Watson EMR Assistant, a tool for analyzing information stored in medical records. Building upon Watson’s question-answering abilities, WatsonPath draws from clinical guidelines, evidence-based studies, and reference materials to either support or refute a set of hypotheses. WatsonPath is essentially the algorithm machine every medical student wishes they had in their head during board exams. And with a “learning regimen” that includes breaking down board-style questions, why wouldn’t WatsonPath score the highest USMLE score ever?   How can WatsonPath be used as an educational tool? The video above explains how the project not only offers answer suggestions, but also displays a schematic flow diagram showing the reasoning behind answers and confidence levels. WatsonPath breaks down clinical scenarios the same way any medical student would, looking at signs and symptoms, interpreting lab values, and searching for key associations. The project is currently being assimilated into the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.   Beyond the classroom walls, the possibilities...

Scientists Introduce Hybrid Human-Pig Embryos

After many years of research, scientists have successfully produced the first-ever human-pig hybrid. Why is this important?   It could change the future of organ transplants for humans.   Many researchers have been working on growing the organs of one animal inside of a different species of animal. For example, scientists recently grew a mouse pancreas inside of a rat successfully. Using similar methods, it might be possible to grow human organs in a pig.   After testing about 1,500 pig embryos, they discovered that certain types of human stem cells would spread throughout the embryo. Many of the cells that took over would develop into the heart, liver, and kidneys.   Watch the video below to learn more about this incredible breakthrough.   Video: Source Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and his team of researchers, have successfully introduced pluripotent human stem cells into pig blastocysts that then developed into a viable embryo. The stem cells took up residence in the spaces that would indicate development of human-compatible organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys. Current regulations prevent the scientists from allowing the embryo to continue to develop, but this research offers promise in the quest to one day eliminate organ transplantation waiting lists. Video of the Week on TDC.   Featured Image:...

Can Computers Diagnose Melanoma?

With so many advances in technology and computer learning, is it possible that one day computers could replace doctors? Robots already assist in surgeries and 3D bio-printers can create synthetic body parts. But can computers reliably make a medical diagnosis?   Medical researchers in California think so – in a collaboration between Stanford’s Department of Electrical Engineering, the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Pathology, among others, scientists have developed a computer algorithm that can diagnose melanoma from a typical photo of a mole taken by any smartphone.   Image: Source   The researchers programmed a computer learning algorithm called a “convolutional neural network” or “CNN,” by using 129,450 clinical images showing 2,032 different diseases to “teach” the CNN what a specific carcinoma looks like. The authors then put the CNN to the test against 21 board-certified dermatologists in a challenge to accurately diagnose the most common and most deadly skin cancers. The authors of the study report that their method performs with a similar success rate as the board-certified dermatologists when it comes to distinguishing malignant melanoma and keratinocyte carcinoma from benign lesions.   Current apps in the U.S. provide information and education about skin cancer and allow users to save pictures of any skin abnormalities, but do not suggest a diagnosis. However, in countries like Australia, Canada and the U.K, you can already download an app...

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