Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Contact and Email


We have a new email for contacting us!  To the left is the "Contact Us" widget (just like always), but now it goes to a specialized address, just for this blog.  If you happen to have it saved in your contacts, please update them!  The new email will be listed below for your convenience.  It's been too long since I've done a post, and I apologize.  I'll be picking up the pace within the next week.  Thank you for understanding.  #StayInformed

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Future Physician 2 year Anniversary!

"Future Physician"
2 year Anniversary

As of June 18, 2014, it has been 2 years since I began this blog.  I am honored and humbled by my dedicated followers, readers, and by the sheer number of page views in the past 2 years.  I started this blog to help people.  As you all know, I'm pursuing phlebotomy, then nursing, then neurosurgery.  I am doing this because I don't have the means to go straight through pre-med then medical school.  I see it as a learning experience though.  I am going to learn the medical field in depth from the bottom to the top and have a good paying job as I go through.  I also will be able to work in the field I love while I'm pursuing my dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.  I think it's admirable for anyone to work their way up, I'm just happy to know I'll be able to work in the field I love while working my way to the top.  I hope with this blog, I am helping people find information they need, or to just enjoy learning about anything and everything medically related.  I also hope I write it in a way that's understandable and not confusing.  I want to help people, with this blog, as well as in my future career(s).  As I've always posted, I'm here to help, if you're embarrassed, that's why I have the "Contact" option, as well as, my social networking sites.  I'm still here to help, if you have a post idea or question, please comment below, contact me, or contact me on my social networking sites.  Remember I will always keep it anonymous.  That's why I have this blog in the first place, to help others.  I want to help everyone to....  #StayInformed

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pancreatic Cancer in Depth

The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach.  It makes and releases enzymes into the intestines that help the body absorb food, especially fats.  The pancreas also makes and releases insulin and glucagon.  These are hormones that help the body control blood sugar level.  There are different types of pancreatic cancers.  The type depends on the cell the cancer develops in.  Examples include:
  • Glucagonoma
  • Insulinoma
  • Islet cell tumor
  • VIPoma
The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown.  It is more common in persons who:
  • Are obese
  • Have a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables
  • Have diabetes
  • Have long-term exposure to certain chemicals
  • Have long-term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis)
  • Smoke
  • Pancreatic cancer is slightly more common in women than in men The risk increases with age
  • Family history of the disease
A tumor (cancer) in the pancreas may grow without any symptoms at first.  This means the cancer is often advanced when it is first found.  Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark urine and clay-colored stools
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Increase in blood sugar levels (diabetes)
  • Jaundice (a yellow color in the skin, mucous membranes, or white part of the eyes)
  • Itching of the skin
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper part of the belly or abdomen
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.  During the exam, the doctor may feel a lump (mass) in your abdomen.  Blood tests that may be ordered include:
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver function tests
  • Serum bilirubin
Imaging tests that may be ordered include:
  • CT scan of the abdomen
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • MRI of the abdomen
  • Pancreatic biopsy

If tests confirm you have pancreatic cancer, more tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread.  This is called staging, staging helps guide treatment and gives you an idea of what to expect.  Treatment depends on the stage of the tumor.  Surgery may be done if the tumor has not spread or has spread very little.  Along with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy or both may be used.  When the tumor has not spread out of the pancreas but cannot be removed, chemotherapy and radiation therapy together may be recommended.  When the tumor has spread (metastasized) to other organs such as the liver, chemotherapy alone is usually used.  With advanced cancer, the goal of treatment is to manage pain and other symptoms.  For example, if the tube that carries bile is blocked by the pancreatic tumor, a procedure to place a tiny metal tube (stent) may be done to open the blockage.  This can help relieve loss of appetite, jaundice, and itching of the skin.  You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group.  Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

Some patients with pancreatic cancer that can be surgically removed are cured.  But in most patients the tumor has spread and cannot be completely removed at the time of diagnosis.  Chemotherapy and radiation are often given after surgery to increase the cure rate (this is called adjuvant therapy).  For pancreatic cancer that cannot be removed completely with surgery or cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas, a cure is not possible.  But chemotherapy can extend one’s life.  Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have:
  • Abdominal pain that does not go away
  • Back pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained fatigue or weight loss
  • Other symptoms of this disorder (listed above)
  • If you smoke, now is the time to quit
  • Keep a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Exercise regularly to stay at a healthy weight

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Osteonecrosis In Depth

Osteonecrosis, also known as Avascular Necrosis, Aseptic Necrosis, or Ischemic Necrosis, is a disease which results from temporary or permanent lack of blood flow to bones.  Without blood flow the bone will ultimately die, causing the bone to collapse.  If this happens near a joint, the surface of that joint will collapse as well.  This can happen in any bone, but normally it attacks the ends of the femur (the thigh bone), other common sites include, the upper arm, the knee, shoulders, and the ankles.  The amount of disability or injury that results from it depends on what part of the bone is affected, how large the area is, and how well the bone rebuilds itself.  Normally, new bone replaces old bone, like with an injury, when it heals the bone is rebuilding that part.  But, with Osteonecrosis, the healing process is greatly affected and it causes the bone and eventually the joint surface to break down and collapse.  This causes extreme pain and arthritis.  Causes of this disease include: 
  • Alcoholism
  • Injury
  • Steroid Use
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Organ Transplantation (particularly the kidney)
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Blood Disorders such as Sickle Cell Disease
  • HIV
  • Gaucher’s Disease
  • Caisson Disease
  • Gout
  • Vasculitis
This can happen to men or women, but it takes place normally in men, unless it's linked to Lupus, then it's normally in women.  It can take place in people of any age as well, although it's most common in people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  To diagnose, the physician will take an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or possibly a bone scan.  Once diagnosed the physician can treat with surgery, or medication.  The treatment depends on the case, the age of the patient, the severity, etc.  Stay Informed!  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Thoracic Spine and Injuries

The thoracic spine is the least common place for spinal injury.  The number one place for spinal injury is the lumbar region (the lower back), the next is the cervical spine (the neck and extreme upper back), and the thoracic region (the middle back) is the least likely to injure.  Only 2% of spinal injuries are located in the thoracic region.  If a herniated (ruptured) disc does occur in the thoracic region, they will only operate on it if it's causing spinal myelopathy (spinal cord dysfunction), progressive neurologic deficits, or intolerable pain.  The reasoning for this is because the typical operation for a thoracic herniation is a thoracotomy.  A thoracotomy consists of the following:
  • The neurosurgeon makes an incision approximately 18 inches down the middle of your chest
  • The removal of a rib
  • The chest/ribcage is then pried open so that the surgeon can gain access to the damaged disc
  • The disc would then be removed and the surgeon would use "hardware" such as rods, screws, and plates to stabilize the affected area of the spine
This has been the way to repair a thoracic herniation.  The long-term fallout can be very severe, ranging from pneumonia to chronic pain to lung complications and extended recovery periods.  There is hope now, there is a new procedure that is extremely less invasive.  The following is a link to a testimony to that hope and progress.  I'm also posting a photo below of the an X-ray of the spine after this new procedure was performed.  #StayInformed

For Reference & More Information On New Thoracic Spinal Surgery Technique

X-ray of hardware used in this procedure.