Disease Diagnosis Via Breathalyzers?

By Janet Taylor A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.   By linking the exhalation of these chemicals to specific diseases, physicians will be able to diagnose disease in the early stages based on both presence and quantities exhaled and possibly identify individuals who are at high risk for development of specific diseases.   Figure 1. Schematic representation of the concept and design of the study. It involved collection of breath samples from 1404 subjects in 14 departments in nine clinical centers in five different countries (Israel, France, USA, Latvia, and China). The population included 591 healthy controls and 813 patients diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, idiopathic Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and chronic kidney disease. One breath sample obtained from each subject was analyzed with the artificially intelligent nanoarray for disease diagnosis and classification, and a second was analyzed with GC-MS for exploring its chemical composition....

How Can I Be Successful On My Surgery Rotation?

Surgery is one of the most unique specialties. I remember an interview with Dr. Atul Gawande, one of the most influential surgeons of our time, where he said that surgery was very much like politics. There are characters with different personalities, running things their own way while trying to influence the world around them. After having spent the past two weeks on my surgery clerkship (with four more to go), I couldn’t agree more. But what really does it take for a lowly medical student (like myself) on his or her first time on surgery to be successful? Well, it starts by knowing a few basic facts.   1. Efficiency is key While this is very difficult to achieve when you are overwhelmed with 30 patients on your service on the first day you join the team, efficiency is something that surgeons value very much. There’s no time to sit down and talk eloquently about a patient’s I’s and O’s, their creatinine trend, or the differential diagnosis of low hemoglobin. You give them some fluids or blood and move on.   2. Don’t feel bad if you feel unnoticed Surgeons are perceptive people. Even though it may feel like you are being ignored as the third year medical student, your residents and attendings easily pick up on your competence (or otherwise). This may be during morning rounds when you...

A Lesson from Research: One Size Does Not Fit All

My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities, Cape Town and Baltimore, has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues. The reality of medicine is that patients do not have medical problems in isolation. The medical problems with which patients present occur in the context of their daily lives that are influenced to varying degrees by social, economic, and psychological factors. In Cape Town, at that time, it was often issues of transportation and water restrictions that determined both access to and the availability of healthcare. “My time working in and navigating medical spaces within historically complex cities has enabled me to comprehend diseases within a larger context- one that encompasses, not isolates, social issues.” I walked into the HIV clinic excited to meet the next batch of patients I would recruit for my study. But as I started to get set up in the usually packed clinic, every seat was empty. I can recall being confused and curious while waiting in the typically congested HIV clinic to see it barren. I looked around trying to find someone who knew where the patients were or if I had missed something. Was it a national holiday I didn’t know about? Is there a workshop for these patients happening somewhere else in the hospital? I waited for an...

How This Hospital Used A $10 Microchip to Produce 3D Ultrasound Models

Joshua Broder, MD, associate professor of surgery at Duke Health, is helping to lead a team of physicians and engineers in an effort to improve the information captured by 2D ultrasound machines. The team has developed software that couples with a simple 3D-printed case attachment and a $10 sensor chip to convert 2D image slices into a contextual 3D ultrasound model. This technology would allow existing 2D machine owners to maintain the portability and ease of use of their imaging units while greatly increasing the usefulness of the image outputs. Dr. Broder hopes the technology will advance enough to one day allow patients to use a similar device on themselves with enough accuracy to eliminate the need for a trip to an office or hospital. Click here to read more about this research on Health Imaging: “With 2D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes,” said Joshua Broder, MD, an associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and one of the creators of the technology. “These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.” “With trauma patients in the emergency department, we face a dilemma,” Broder said. “Do we take them...

It’s Not ALL About Saving Lives: Salaries and Satisfaction in Medical Education

  Ready to throw on that white coat? Think again. Here we give the down low on job satisfaction and salaries for the most popular medical specialties. Now for some serious dough? Find the next “King of Pop”…   Featured Image:...

How to Win the Med School Admissions Game with a Few Emails

A hypothetical email exchange to the med school admissions office of every school I applied to: 12/14/16 4:36p Dear Admissions Committee, I am very interested in your medical school. For your consideration I have attached my AMCAS and transcript. Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Regards, Rachel     12/21/16 10:32p   Dear Admissions Committee, My name is Rachel and I applied to your medical school. I just wanted to follow up with my application to make sure it had been received and to give you my phone number in case you had any questions about my application. Again, thank you for considering me for a position in the Class of 2018, I hope to hear from you soon. Regards, Rachel   1/12/17 6:32p Dear Admissions Committee, I hope all is going well with the admissions process. I know that decision emails were scheduled to be sent out on the tenth of January and since I never received an email saying I was either accepted or rejected I just wanted to follow up and make sure you’d received my application. If not, I have attached my personal statement and AMCAS application again. Thank you for your continued support in this application process. Rachel   1/15/17 3:12a Wow OK I just saw online that yuou have closed the interview process? Like you’re donee? Which...

Let Me Tell You About My First Time In Surgery As A Woman

“Flowers are ok but she’d rather you pin her against the wall in the dark and personally deliver a bouquet of chills and shivers.” – Jmstorm Surgery? Please…who would want to put oneself through that misery!? And especially not me with my bubbly personality (and lack of modesty of course). I was bound to turn a blind eye to surgery real soon. In reality, I was not mentally prepared to start surgery as my first rotation, let alone a 7-hour long resection rectopexy on my very first day. The thought of being in the OR scared me, being this five-foot, petite female in between those towering men who were known to take command of the room. However, as I was scrubbing in before the procedure, I peaked through a small window and saw an animated, petite female standing on a two-foot tall step stool, eloquently instructing the nurses, technicians, and residents. As I entered the OR, my fears were soon replaced with awe as I found out that she was the head surgeon. In all honestly, I was floored by the confidence in her skills, the assertiveness of her polite tone, and the way she held the fort throughout the entire surgery. My impression was that surgery has been and likely still is a male-dominated field. Thus, I expected female surgeons as role models to be a rare sight....