Archive | March, 2008

Mystery Diagnosis

The other day I was watching Mystery Diagnosis on TLC. For those who don’t know what it is Mystery Diagnosis tells the stories of patients with medical mysteries. In each personal story, the patients, doctors and everyone involved discover the importance of being vigilant.  Medicine is often more of an art than a science, and the journey to diagnosis can be a twisted path full of many surprises. Recently I saw an episode that featured a middle age women develop a new daily headache. She had an MRI done which showed a few dots of white matter, but besides that everything was normal.  It was eventually found by a cardiologist that the aura she was also experiencing was due to a Patent Foramen Ovale. She had a hole in her heart that never fully closed. Eventually surgery was done and the headache went away. To find out more about the show visit…

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Teen is Dead From Breast Surgery

Stephanie Kuleba is an 18-year-old high school senior, who was headed to college and then medical school, but felt she needed to be even more perfect Her breasts were asymmetrical and she had an inverted areola, so she went to have cosmetic surgery clinic in Boca Raton, Florida. But now she is dead. She died 24 hours after undergoing surgery, the victim of a rare reaction to anesthesia called malignant hyperthermia. Malignant hyperthermia is a rare life-threatening condition that is triggered by exposure to certain drugs used for general anaesthesia. In susceptible individuals, these drugs can induce a drastic and uncontrolled increase in skeletal muscle oxidative metabolism which overwhelms the body’s capacity to supply oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and regulate body temperature, eventually leading to circulatory collapse and death if untreated. “This young lady’s death is a tragedy. Our hearts go out to her family. It’s a devastating event,” said the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He added, “this is something that can happen in any surgery, on any part of the body, in any setting.” “There’s a medication for this that needs to be given very quickly  [to save the person’s life]” Kuleba’s family, who did […]

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Migraine Pathophysiology

I found an interesting read on migraines and headaches over at It discusses that “While the current medical models for migraine pathophysiology include afferent input from the meningeal arteries to the trigeminal sensory nucleus, the effect of any other acute or chronic noxious afferent input from the other divisions of the trigeminal, primarily the mandibular (third) division and how that noxious afferent input effects sensory modulation, has been essentially ignored.” Then “as a result of genetic properties of the host as a result of a pre-sensitization of the sensory nucleus inflammation of the arteries, which is thought to be primarily responsible for the patient’s pain, throbbing and aversion to movement [occur].” The site goes into greater detail and also discusses an elevated sympathetic tone in patients.

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Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. The number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics has increased in the last decade. Nearly all significant bacterial infections in the world are becoming resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotic treatments. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria. Misuse of antibiotics jeopardizes the usefulness of essential drugs. Decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use is the best way to control resistance. Children are of particular concern because they have the highest rates of antibiotic use. They also have the highest rate of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Parent pressure makes a difference. For pediatric care, a recent study showed that doctors prescribe antibiotics 65% of the time if they perceive parents expect them; and 12% of the time if they feel parents do not expect them. Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for people who have common infections that once were easily treatable with antibiotics. When antibiotics fail to work, the consequences are longer-lasting illnesses; more doctor visits or […]

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Key to Life

ScienceDaily (Feb. 29, 2008) — An important discovery has been made with respect to the mystery of “handedness” in biomolecules. Researchers led by Sandra Pizzarello, a research professor at Arizona State University, found that some of the possible abiotic precursors to the origin of life on Earth have been shown to carry “handedness” in a larger number than previously thought. Pizzarello, in ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, worked with Yongsong Huang and Marcelo Alexandre, of Brown University, in studying the organic materials of a special group of meteorites that contain among a variety of compounds, amino acids that have identical counterparts in terrestrial biomolecules. These meteorites are fragments of asteroids that are about the same age as the solar system (roughly 4.5 billion years.) Scientists have long known that most compounds in living things exist in mirror-image forms. The two forms are like hands; one is a mirror reflection of the other. They are different, cannot be superimposed, yet identical in their parts. When scientists synthesize these molecules in the laboratory, half of a sample turns out to be “left-handed” and the other half “right-handed.” But amino acids, which are the building blocks of terrestrial proteins, are all “left-handed,” […]

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