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IN THE NEWS . . .
(February 18, 2015)Pharmacy Times blog features a son's account of his mother's successful mitral valve surgery, which was performed by W. Clark Hargrove, III, MD, clinical director of cardiovascular surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
NBC 10 News(February 10, 2015) NBC10 reports that local trauma experts will launch a first-of-its-kind citywide study to determine if getting victims to the hospital the right away could offer a better chance of survival. In the study called the Philadelphia Immediate Transport in Penetrating Trauma trial, paramedics working in city ambulances that provide advanced life support will be instructed by dispatchers to either carry out normal medical procedures on patients or immediately take them to the hospital. “We’re trying to get smarter about what we’re doing,” said Patrick Kim, MD, Trauma Program Director. “Sometimes smarter means doing more and different procedures and sometimes it means not doing more procedures."
(February 10, 2015) Penn Medicine physicians have completed their 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, marking an important milestone in the health system’s treatment of aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. “This milestone reinforces our ongoing commitment to provide the most advanced treatment options to our patients,” said Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, vice chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and co-director of the Transcatheter Valve Program at Penn Medicine.
Fox 29(January 26, 2015) A Fox29 piece on the increasing rates of thyroid cancer referenced Rachel Kelz, MD, MSCE, associate professor of Surgery, who told Fox29 that if patients suspect any thyroid issues, they should contact their primary doctor. Researchers predict that thyroid cancer will be the third most common cancer by 2019, Fox29 reports.
(January 3, 2015) Shanee Edwards and Diane K. Newman work together to fight overactive bladders. Examiner.com
(October 25, 2014) A clinical trial underway at Penn Medicine is investigating the use of vitamin D in combination with chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients, reports Oncology Times. This first in-human trial stems from a recent preclinical study published in the journal Cell, co-authored by Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, chair of Surgery, and Peter O’Dwyer, MD, professor of Medicine, which found that the combo increased the lifespan of animals by 50 percent compared to chemotherapy alone.
(October 27, 2014) Penn Medicine patient, Francie Howat, appeared on a segment of “The Doctors” TV show on Monday along with Sunil Singhal, MD, assistant professor and director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory, her surgeon, who appeared via video conference. Howat had lung cancer surgery using Singhal and his team’s new technology that makes cancer cells glow for better visibility during surgery. Singhal told the audience, “This is the future of surgery. If we can catch cancer cells before you see them on an x-ray it’s going to change the way we deal with cancer for everyone.”
(October 10, 2014) David I Lee, MD, associate professor of Urology, discusses prostate health with Inside Golfat the Jay Sigel Invitational benefit for prostate cancer research at the Abramson Cancer Center. "Going to your physician, getting it checked out, and getting informed about it is key," said Lee. 
Philadelphia Inquirer(October 5, 2014) A clinical trial underway at Penn Medicine is investigating the use of vitamin D in combination with chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. This first in-human trial stems from a recent preclinical study published in the journal Cell, co-authored by Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, chair of Surgery, and Peter O’Dwyer, MD, professor of Medicine, which found that the combo increased the lifespan of animals by 50 percent compared to chemotherapy alone.
(October 3, 2014) The Delaware County Daily Times covered lung cancer patient, Francie Howat’s recent trip to Los Angeles to appear on an episode of the CBS medical talk show, “The Doctors.” Francie, a Delaware County resident, underwent surgery at Penn in July on a clinical trial led by Sunil Singhal, MD, assistant professor of surgery and director of Penn Medicine’s Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory whereby infrared imaging is used to make tumors glow for better visibility during surgery.
Philadelphia Inquirer(September 21, 2014) A Philadelphia Inquirer article looks at the shortage of kidneys and livers available for thousands of people on transplant waiting lists in the region. "I have a hundred patients I'd love to transplant today, but we don't have the organs," said Abraham Shaked, MD, PhD, director of the Penn Transplant Institute.
CBS Philly(September 17, 2014) A new technique developed by Penn Medicine and Vet researchers is helping surgeons spot invisible lung cancer cells during surgery by making tumors glow green, reports CBS3. Lung cancer is often surgically removed, but about 30 percent of the time cells are missed. Using a contrast dye indocyanine green and near-infrared imaging, surgeons can see the entire tumor, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.  “It’s going to change the field.  It’s a paradigm shift for surgeons to be able to see things that we never did before.  It’s exciting,” said Sunil Singhal, MD, assistant professor of Thoracic Surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The August 2014 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine discusses five celebrities who have had cosmetic surgery and the emergence of stars opening up about their procedures. Louis Bucky, MD, chief of Plastic Surgery, and Jesse Taylor, MD, associate professor of Plastic Surgery, comment on medical uses and potential long-term effects of everything from liposuction and butt implants to rhinoplasty and breast enhancement.
philly.com logoThe Philadelphia Inquirerannounced that Ronald M. Fairman, MD, chief of the division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, has been elected vice president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, an international medical society. He also is the Clyde F. Barker-William Maul Measey professor of surgery.
CBS Philly(September 2, 2014) Carla Fisher, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery, spoke with CBS3 about a new JAMA study that found more women are opting for double mastectomies. “There’s a definite fear of recurrence, fear of death from breast cancer. Patients feel undergoing bilateral mastectomy may decrease those chances,” Fisher said, although the study also showed that the procedure offered no benefit over less invasive treatments. “Surgery is one important component of breast cancer; there are lots of other therapies that are just as good,  if not better,” Fisher said.
An Annals of Surgery study found using saltier saline, and less of it, reduced complications by 25 percent in pancreatic cancer treatment cases. Jeffrey Drebin, MD, chair of Surgery, who was not involved in the research, suspects the key element is lower fluid volume rather than change in saltiness. "I think lower volume is important," Drebin said. "We and others have shown that you can use less volume without making it saltier." (link)
(July 15, 2014) A front page article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer reports on two new prostate cancer studies in JAMA Internal Medicine finding that many low-risk patients receive more treatment than is needed or helpful - racking up millions of dollars in excess costs and, potentially, causing more physical harm than good. One example is hormone therapy, or ADT, as the main treatment in patients in which cancer cells have not spread. "It really is not a benign treatment," said Alan J. Wein, MD, Founders Professor and chief of Urology, who was not involved in the studies. "Androgen-deprivation therapy is palliative, not curative." For patients with advanced disease, it can be very effective in relieving symptoms and shrinking the cancer. "But ADT also has been associated with thinning of the bones, weight gain, decreased muscle tone, the appearance of diabetes, and perhaps deep venous thrombosis," Wein said.
Philadelphia Inquirer(July 13, 2014) A war on pancreas cancer is underway right here at the Abramson Cancer Center. A story in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer featured the work of Jeffrey Drebin, MD, chair of Surgery and the John Rhea Barton Professor of Surgery, and Robert Vonderheide, MD,  the Hanna Wise Professor in Cancer Research in the ACC. Drebin and Vonderheide—both co-leads on Stand up to Cancer Dream Teams—are investigating new targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and more, to better the understand and treat the disease, which is projected to become this country's second-leading cancer killer. "We absolutely need to figure it out," said Vonderheide. "It's a medical emergency." Ongoing studies at the ACC have shed light on tumor biology and shown success with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.  "We're not declaring victory,” Drebin told the Inquirer. “We're declaring progress.”
(July 7, 2014) A feature article from Executive Insight discusses the importance of communication among OR teams, and how new technologies are affecting communication. "Effective team communication and real-time access to patient data are important functions in operating rooms," said Jim Mullen, MD, associate executive director in the department of Surgery. "Adding new technology to our existing resources that will keep everyone on the same page is an invaluable asset."
USA Today logo(March 31, 2014) Obesity surgery is an effective treatment for uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and helps people who aren't morbidly obese, according to a new three-year study presented at the 2014 American College of Cardiology meeting.  The trial, known by the acronym STAMPEDE, also showed the two types of surgery -- gastric bypass or gastric sleeve -- had fairly similar benefits, which was somewhat unexpected because gastric bypass has been around longer and was believed to be better. Noel Williams, MD, director, Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program, told USA Today he's seeing the same thing in his patients. Mariell Jessup, MD, professor of Medicine and president of the AHA, told Bloomberg Businessweek that she has seen the benefits of surgery even in her sickest patients with heart failure, saying “it’s unbelievable how quickly they improve.” The weight-loss procedure has other advantages, including making people feel better, allowing them to exercise more and helping manage their blood pressure and fluid volume, she said.
(March 15, 2014) Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, assistant professor in Plastic Surgery, is featured on a SciFi channel show, "Futurescape" with James Woods, discussing the role of sirtuin proteins in the aging process. Percec is using adipose tissue to search the human genome to find out where sirtuins are interacting with other genes. She’s finding huge differences between the cells of the young and the old. “In young cells, the red, there is sirtuin 7 binding in areas where there are not many genes. And in this same area, this protein is depleted in older patients. So it's lost in those regions, and this is true across all of the chromosomes that we've looked at,” said Percec.
FOX 29 News logo(February 25, 2014) Brian J. Czerniecki, MD, PhD, professor in Surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, along with two patients, were featured in a FOX29 story about his ongoing, breast cancer vaccine trials for women with DCIS, a noninvasive cancer found inside the milk duct of the breasts that may lead to more aggressive cancers. The personalized vaccines are made from a patient's own white blood cells to fight the cancer. In the first two trials, the results were dramatic. "We can actually see tumors dying…You can actually see in about 22 percent of patients there's actually no disease that we can even see, as a result of vaccination," said Czerniecki.
Philadelphia Inquirer logo(February 24, 2014) Not so long ago, repairing a life-threatening bulge in the aorta - the body's largest blood vessel - meant a huge operation. Surgeons would cut open the patient's torso, spread the breastbone, then replace the weakened wall of the aorta with a polyester tube. After a week in the hospital, the patient would need a month or two of convalescence at home. No more. For the majority of patients with aortic aneurysms, the fix is a minimally invasive procedure and one night in the hospital, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The FDA approved the first stent graft in 1999. Now, a mere 15 years later, the benefits of endovascular repair are well-established. And patients prefer it. "Humans don't want to have a big incision," said Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, who does complex aortic operations and endovascular treatments. "They will accept a bit less effectiveness for less invasiveness."
FOX 29 News logo(January 30, 2014) Fox29 reports on Penn patient Lauren Naccarelli, 28, who yesterday underwent surgery to surrender a perfectly healthy kidney to someone she doesn't know and may never meet. Peter Abt, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant Surgery and Lauren's surgeon, says only about a hundred people a year donate to a stranger, an act known as "altruistic donation." "This is a very rare circumstance. These are very special individuals. They're unbelievably giving and caring and thoughtful," Abt said, adding that some 90,000 Americans will wait up to five years on average, for a new, functioning kidney. Lauren, like most folks, can live a perfectly normal life with her one remaining kidney.
(January 29, 2014) As part of Prevention magazine's feature on how to improve sleep, Ariana Smith, MD, assistant professor of Urology, offers advice on how to minimize trips to the bathroom. "Patients often tell me, 'When I was a college student, I could drink fluids up until I went to sleep, and now all of a sudden it's a problem,'" said Smith. This may be because vasopressin, a hormone that suppresses urine production, declines as we age. Suggestions include using the toilet before going to bed, avoiding beverages within 2 to 3 hours of bedtime, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which are diuretics. If these tips don't help prevent more than one bathroom trip nightly, seeing a doctor is recommended.
Main Line Times logo(January 27, 2014) There’s a cutting-edge new treatment for patients with aortic stenosis, Main Line Today magazine reports. It’s called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and it’s less invasive than conventional surgical procedures. TAVR’s integral component is a heart valve made of cow tissue, which is attached to a stainless-steel mesh frame that’s wrapped in polyester and inserted via catheter. As one of the first centers in the U.S. to use the device, doctors in the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center have done close to 700 procedures in seven years, making Penn’s the largest program in the area. Joseph Bavaria, MD, professor of Surgery and vice chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and Howard Herrmann, MD, professor of Medicine and Director, Interventional Cardiology Program, are both featured experts in the article.
(January 8, 2014) The "Grinch" effect may be curbing survival rates in some heart transplant patients who receive hearts that are too small for their bodies, a new study suggests. Scientists said it may be due to the way donors and recipients are matched up -- by weight -- and they propose that that height and sex should play a bigger role in the selection process.  In an interview with HealthDay regarding the new study, Michael Acker, MD, chief, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and director of the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center, said he and colleagues look at dozens of factors when seeking a donor for a particular patient. These include age, height, weight and sex of the donor; how well the donor heart is functioning; the donor's mode of death and if there was trauma to the heart or evidence of infection. "You have to do a risk-benefit analysis every time you accept or decline a donor," Acker said.
Philadelphia Inquirer(January 8, 2014) In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Philadelphia Police Department has issued 5,000 tourniquets to officers to help them assist penetrating trauma victims in the field, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Each district sent officers to the department's training session, a four-hour, hands-on clinic. Police officers are already saying they have been able to save lives with them. "With all the data out of the Middle East, it's clear that tourniquets are a great way to stop bleeding in an austere environment, which can also include an isolated urban block," said Daniel Holena, MD, assistant professor of Surgery, Division of Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery. "The bottom line is that this is a great application in Philly, where penetrating trauma is common," he said. "I've already seen here that tourniquets have saved lives, and I support the department's decision 100 percent."
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