Health Matters Blog

Taking the Mystery Out of Anesthesia

Published March 9, 2012

Ithiel Fuller, MD Taking the Mystery Out of Anesthesia By Dr. Ithiel Fuller For many patients who are about to undergo surgery, something that frequently causes the most anxiety is the anesthesia that makes surgery possible. Fear of the unknown is very powerful, and anesthesia is very mysterious. Popular culture is full of portrayals of worst-case scenarios designed for thrills in medical dramas, but fears also stem from the fact that we don’t have a firm scientific understanding of what exactly consciousness is. This makes it hard to explain how consciousness can be suspended in a controlled way, which is part of what anesthesiologists do every day. ...

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The Truth About Colorectal Cancer

Published March 2, 2012

Thomas-H.-Lewis The Truth About Colorectal Cancer By Dr. Thomas H. Lewis March was designated as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month back in 2000 as a way to remind people to get screened for the disease. The Center for Disease Control reports that cancer of the colon or rectum is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be. The truth is colorectal cancer is a very curable illness. It can be detected and treated long before it becomes a major problem, and getting a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 is the best way to do that. [caption id="attachment_4098" align="alignright" width="180"]...

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Xiaflex Is A True Breakthrough for Hand Disorders

Published February 23, 2012

Elizabeth A. McLarney, MD Xiaflex Is A True Breakthrough for Hand Disorders By Dr. Elizabeth McLarney In the coming months you may hear about a new drug for treating cellulite, called Xiaflex. The pharmaceutical manufacturer that makes it just began clinical trials of its effects in January. I am not recommending Xiaflex for treatment of cellulite because I’m not a cosmetic surgeon. I am familiar with Xiaflex, however, because it was originally developed to treat a hand disorder called Dupytren’s contracture. Normally, I hesitate to use words like “revolutionary” when describing medical advancements; few things truly change the way we do something. The art...

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Things to Consider Before Orthopaedic Surgery

Published February 17, 2012

Things to Consider Before Orthopaedic Surgery By Robert Feinberg, Physician Assistant In last week’s Health Matters column, my colleague Dr. William Vranos referenced some studies that indicated a significant rise in total joint replacement surgeries being carried out. Indeed, one study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality projects a 670 percent increase in knee replacement surgeries alone by 2030. But the good news is that a lot of people seeking orthopedic care aren’t in need of immediate surgery. In fact, some patients may not need surgery at all to treat their conditions. One of the main roles of physician assistan...

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Advances in Joint Replacement Lead to Younger Patients, Better Outcomes

Published February 10, 2012

William Vranos, MD Advances in Joint Replacement Lead to Younger Patients, Better Outcomes by Dr. William Vranos Just after the new year, a group of orthopedic surgeons in Finland published the findings of a study showing that over the 25 year period between 1980 and 2006 there was a 130 percent increase worldwide in knee replacement surgeries for patients between the ages of 30 and 59, with the greatest increase occurring in patients between 50 and 59 years old. There was a time when we would have to tell people suffering from arthritis they would have to wait until they were 65 years old before surgery would be advisable. But the incremental advances in s...

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Think You Need Back Surgery? Listen to Your Leg Pain

Published February 3, 2012

Jon Thatcher, MD Think You Need Back Surgery? Listen to Your Leg Pain By Dr. Jon Thatcher It’s almost a certainty that each and every one of us is going to experience back pain at some point or another in our lives. The most commonly quoted statistic says four out of every five people will suffer some sort of back problem. But despite its prevalence, the causes of back pain are complicated and even mysterious at times, making treatment difficult. [caption id="attachment_550" align="alignright" width="200"] Jon C. Thatcher, MD[/caption] Another commonly accepted statistic is that 85 percent of the time the origins of back pain cannot be determined....

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Dehydration Also a Cold Weather Risk

Published January 26, 2012

Peter Foote, DO Dehydration Also a Cold Weather Risk By Dr. Peter Foote Following is part two of a two-part column on cold-weather injuries. When it’s a humid August day and the sun shines brightly without a cloud in the sky, the perspiration beading up on our foreheads is a reminder to make sure we’re drinking enough water. This is particularly true when you are exercising or working outside and your body is losing fluids more quickly. Furthermore, it is equally important to consume enough water when taking part in outdoor activities during the cold winter months, even if we aren’t sweating or feeling thirsty. Back in 2005, a study conducted...

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Don’t Let Frostbite Ruin Your Fun

Published January 20, 2012

Peter Foote, DO Don’t Let Frostbite Ruin Your Fun By Dr. Peter Foote Following is part one of a two-part column on cold-weather injuries. [caption id="attachment_502" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Peter Foote, DO"][/caption] January is Vermont’s coldest month, meteorologically speaking. In the Vermont Weather Book, author David Ludlum says this is the time of year when the Atlantic jet stream travels its southernmost course, leaving polar winds coming from the northwest unimpeded by its warm air. Here in Brattleboro, January’s average temperature is 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Not as cold as northern parts of the state like Newport, where ...

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Helping Physicians Focus on Patient Care

Published January 13, 2012

Prudence MacKinney Helping Physicians Focus on Patient Care By Prudence MacKinney Recently, I was showing a physician and his wife around town as part of the interview process for a position we have at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. They were self-professed “city people,” looking for a safe community in which to raise their family; while at the same time they did not want to feel isolated geographically or culturally. Brattleboro obviously met a lot of their quality-of-life criteria. [caption id="attachment_2228" align="alignright" width="160" caption="Prudence MacKinney"][/caption] The truth is that Brattleboro’s vibrant community and the proxi...

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Putting Resolve into New Year’s Resolutions

Published January 6, 2012

Janine Foote, DO Putting Resolve into New Year’s Resolutions By Dr. Janine Foote So what resolutions did you make when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. this past Sunday? And how are you doing on them so far during this first week of 2012? Starting the new year with a self-improvement goal is a time honored tradition. You can ride that global feeling of having a fresh start and determine to do things differently in the future. [caption id="attachment_501" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Janine Foote, DO"][/caption] A lot of the more common resolutions are health related. We want to lose weight, quit smoking or drinking, or just feel less stresse...

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