When a Promising Cancer Treatment Was Destroyed

As stories of innovative cancer treatments have spread over the years, they’ve been distorted numerous times. We end up with either unalloyed praise or across-the-board denial.

“Treatment X was curing people like crazy.” Continue reading

New Ultrasound Medical Tools for Space Research

The remoteness and resource limitations of spaceflight pose a serious challenge to astronaut health care. One solution is ultrasound.

Scientists with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) have developed tools that expand the use of ultrasound during spaceflight and on Earth, especially in rural and underserved locations. These tools include techniques that streamline training and help remote experts guide non-physician astronauts to perform ultrasound exams. Ultrasound can be used to assess numerous conditions – fractured bones, collapsed lungs, kidney stones, organ damage and other ailments – in space and on Earth. With an NSBRI grant, they also created a catalog, or atlas, of “space-normal” imagery of the human body, setting the stage for astronauts to provide care without consulting a physician on Earth. This atlas was handed over to NASA earlier this year.

Dr. Scott A. Dulchavsky, the Roy D. McClure Chairman of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, is the principal investigator of these projects and is a member of the NSBRI Smart Medical Systems and Technology Team. “The ultrasound imagery techniques came from space program constraints of not having a trained radiologist on orbit or having a CAT scan or an MRI available, forcing us to use ultrasound for things in which we would not normally use it,” Continue reading

Are Digital Mammograms Superior to the Regular Kind for Women of Every Age?

Deborah Armstrong, M.D.In digital mammography, the X-ray is converted into an electrical signal that can be displayed on a computer screen or printed as an image that looks like a regular mammogram. The patient’s experience is no different from having a traditional mammogram. Digital mammograms can sometimes use a lower overall dose of radiation to the breast.

The differences between traditional and digital mammography are similar to the differences between traditional and digital photography. Some benefits of digital mammography are that the radiologist can manipulate the digital mammogram electronically to magnify an area, change contrast, or alter the brightness. In addition, the images are available immediately, without waiting for film to develop, and the images can be transmitted electronically from remote locations for centralized reading.

Digital mammograms can only be performed by a facility that is certified to perform them and digital mammography is more expensive than traditional mammography. The cost of digital mammography may thus not be covered by all insurance plans. Early studies comparing digital and traditional mammography haven’t shown a difference in breast-cancer detection. However, there may be a lower chance of women being called back for a repeat mammogram when digital imaging is used. Digital mammograms may be particularly useful in women with dense breasts, a finding more common in younger women.