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Chevelle Wise, with a newly reconstructed upper palate, and head and neck surgeon David Huchton.
Chevelle Wise, with a newly reconstructed upper palate, and head and neck surgeon David Huchton.

Medical Updates Index

Head and Neck Surgery Is No Ordinary Occupation
Removing a cancerous tumor in the mouth requires delicate surgery, but that’s just the beginning for a head and neck specialist. Reconstructing the person’s face afterward takes true artistry and phenomenal technique.

Take the case of Chevelle Wise. Head and neck surgeon David Huchton met this 33-year-old Baltimore correctional officer five years after she’d had a seriously malignant sarcoma removed. Wise’s entire upper palate, the floor of her nose and her septum had been cut away, leaving a cavernous gap from her mouth to the floor of her brain into which...

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Fighting to Reduce Brain Injuries at Birth
Of all the things that can go wrong as a woman is delivering a baby, detachment of the placenta from the fetus may be the most alarming. Suddenly, the blood and oxygen supply is cut off, triggering a slow but tenacious destruction across the baby’s brain. The result can be mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures or even death.

“These are babies who you want to be able to offer something to,” says neonatologist Susan Aucott, M.D. “But despite years and years of searching, all we’ve been able to do is...

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An Implanted Prosthesis Can Restore Walking
Orthopaedic surgeon Steven Lietman, M.D., points to an X-ray of a 61-year-old man whose renal cell cancer has spread into the deep socket in his pelvis that holds the head of his thigh bone. The tumor has eroded the socket so badly that the simple act of moving has become unbearable for this man....

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One More Step Forward in Treating Osteoporosis
One of the most exciting new approaches to easing the painful spinal compression fractures that can go with advanced cases of osteoporosis has been injecting a bone cement into the vertebrae. Known as percutaneous vertebroplasty, the technique has proved amazingly effective in stabilizing the spine and preventing further breakdown in the bone.

But while vertebroplasty solidifies the bone in the position that it’s in, it doesn’t correct...

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How a Postcard Makes a Point
The postcard from Disney World is an odd slide among the charts, tables and illustrations that neurologist Daniel Drachman, M.D., uses in presentations on myasthenia gravis. But Drachman, who leads Hopkins’ neuromuscular clinic, tells doctors-in-training the card from his longtime patient Linda Mondell is the ultimate litmus test. “When you get a patient with MG who can weather the exertions of Disney World, you know you’re doing something right.”...

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Secrets of Attraction (among Cells)
Researchers have known for years that when one cell wants to attract another, it releases a trail of signaling molecules that travel toward the second cell, docking on its receptors. Then, like an animal following a scent, the second cell follows the trail. But the process by which this cell moves itself toward the first, known as chemotaxis, has long baffled scientists...

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Getting Rid of Fibroids While Preserving the Uterus
Linda Johnson, a 37-year-old hospital administrator, thought signs of impending middle age had arrived early in her life. Her abdomen had become bulky; menstrual bleeding was heavy; she was incontinent and had recurring pelvic pain. Johnson’s gynecologist found instead that...

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Videotapes Offer Clues to Variations in Prostate Surgery
Baseball pitchers use videotape to perfect their fastball; tennis players use it to get a better spin on their serve. The video camera is a staple for athletes; in fact, no respectable football coach would contemplate next week’s game without spending hours going over this week’s effort on the gridiron play by play.

So why don’t surgeons do the same thing, wondered urologist-in-chief Patrick C. Walsh, M.D.? “How are we ever going to improve our technique if we don’t analyze our own work this way?”...

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