A small wand instantly detects straggling cancer cells during surgery. A person with a chronic disease, living far from a hospital, sends his avatar to the doctor’s office. The general public becomes trained in providing first aid for those with mental health problems. Pioneering Milwaukeeans are working on making these – and other – breakthroughs […]
1. The little wand that could
On a Thursday afternoon in November, a pea-sized lymph node from a mastectomy patient is brought into the crowded office of Dr. Gerald Smith, laboratory medical director at Aurora Sinai Medical Center. While the patient remains in the operating room, Smith freezes, slices, stains and microscopically examines the tissue for cancer. His conclusion will help determine if more of the woman’s breast tissue or lymph nodes are removed. The process takes about 20 minutes.
2. The end of open-heart surgery
At 92 years old, Ed Miller of Oconomowoc would not normally have been an open-heart surgery candidate because of his age. He suffered from severe aortic stenosis – one of his heart’s four valves was dangerously narrowed – and doctors said he could expect to live another year or so with debilitating shortness of breath and fatigue.
|Hear more about Medical Breakthroughs on WUWM’s “Lake Effect” Feb. 6 at 10 a.m.|
TAVI also may offer a solution for younger patients who are ineligible for open-heart surgery because of other health conditions. At age 62, Diane Mann of Racine became the youngest patient in the Aurora St. Luke’s clinical trial. Prior to surgery, Mann had marked the progressive narrowing of her aortic valve after annual physician visits. “Each year, it opened less and less,” she says. Constantly short of breath, she found walking through the grocery store too difficult. “I had no ambition to go anywhere. Not even to a movie.” Lupus and other medical conditions precluded her from open-heart surgery, and her valve shrunk to about three-tenths of its healthy size. Death, when it eventually came, would be quick, she reasoned. “I would have gone to bed and not woken up.”
3. The pod for safe co-sleeping
On average, about two babies die each month in Milwaukee while co-sleeping with adults. Wisconsin state Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Randall) has sought to criminalize co-sleeping while impaired, but a nurse researcher is going at the problem in another – rather controversial – direction: Make co-sleeping safer for those who insist on it.
4. The bank that’s changing medical practice
5. A blanket to keep you cold
In 1999, 29-year-old Anna Bågenholm was submerged in an icy stream for 80 minutes and survived. Although she endured a long recovery, the accidental hypothermia helped ward off brain damage, in part because the brain needs less oxygen when it’s cold.
6. The next generation of public health
In his rearview mirror, Bevan Baker sees a defining moment of his eight-plus years as Milwaukee’s commissioner of health: the 2009 mass vaccination against H1N1, a global pandemic that resulted in 18,500 lab-confirmed deaths. (A recent CDC study estimated total global deaths could be as high as 575,000.) Thousands of Milwaukee-area residents, young and old, queued up each day at makeshift clinics for vaccinations against the so-called swine flu.
7. Mimicking life for high-tech learning
8. Med school’s extreme makeover
9. The virtual way to visit the doctor
The patient logs in from home, using a computer equipped with audio-visual capabilities and technology that transmits vital signs to the doctor. She guides her avatar – dressed anonymously in black pants and a white top – around the virtual campus, enters a building marked Medical Clinic Office and comes to rest in a large, sunlit room with floor-to-ceiling windows. She sits in one of the 12 chairs arranged in a half-circle. Other chairs are occupied by anonymous avatars representing patients with the same chronic condition. Her doctor enters the room at 10 a.m. The patient’s vital statistics are already available for the doctor to look at, and if either party wants to talk or see one another, they can.
10. First aid for mental health