Health Matters Blog

Gratitude for Volunteers

Published April 13, 2012

Gratitude for Volunteers By JoAnne Rogers National Volunteer Week (April 15-21 this year) was established in 1974 to recognize those who, as President Obama proclaimed in 2011, are “the lifeblood of our schools and shelters, hospitals and hotlines, and faith-based and community groups.” The 110 people who volunteered at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital logged an astounding 19,500 hours of service last year, and every minute of it made a difference in how patients receive care here. [caption id="attachment_4545" align="alignright" width="229"] JoAnne Rogers[/caption] Many of our volunteers come to us after accessing hospital service...

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Putting a Face to Cancer

Published April 3, 2012

Walter C. Wagenknecht, MD Putting a Face to Cancer By Walter Wagenknecht, MD Long ago, there were politicians who advocated spending large sums of money on medical research, specifically with the goal of waging and winning “the war against cancer.” That appealed to many of us, especially the many whose lives had been touched directly or through family and friends by this all too common scourge. Perhaps a better analogy might be to compare the fight against cancer to a police action rather than a military engagement, in which civilian law enforcers try to round up those members of our own community who refuse to live by the rules and thereby protect the majo...

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Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Published March 30, 2012

Joseph Rosen, MD BREAST CANCER RISK ASSESSMENT By Dr. Joseph Rosen [caption id="attachment_543" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Joseph Rosen, MD"][/caption] One of the advantages of caring for women with breast disease for over 30 years is the perspective one gains by seeing how things evolve over a time. I don’t think there are too many fields changing as quickly as breast disease management. Because it’s such a big problem there has been much grassroots support. This has resulted in a lot of time and resources directed into research, generating a huge amount of information in a short time. When I was in training, all women who came to us ...

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Top Questions About Colon Cancer Screening & Colonoscopy

Published March 22, 2012

Jeffry Potash, MD Top Questions About Colon Cancer Screening & Colonoscopy by Jeffry Potash March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, creating an opportunity to educate the community about the dangers, prevention and treatment of colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer. In Vermont, there are about 330 new cases per year and 24 of them are from Windham County. 1. Can colon cancer be prevented? What is a polyp? [caption id="attachment_538" align="alignright" width="200"] Jeffry Potash, MD[/caption] Yes, to a significant degree. Colon cancer is unique because it begins as a benign tumor called a “polyp”. By removing polyps, w...

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Varicose Veins

Published March 15, 2012

Gregory R. Gadowski, MD, FACS Varicose Veins by Dr. Greg Gadowski Varicose veins are a very prevalent condition that no one really talks about as an illness. People who have not experienced them may think they are purely a cosmetic eyesore, but they are, in fact, a component of a condition called venous disease. Patients who have it know the pain and discomfort varicose veins cause in their legs. [caption id="attachment_505" align="alignright" width="200"] Gregory R. Gadowski, MD[/caption] Our legs contain a relatively complicated system of veins which rely on little valves to circulate blood back up to the heart after it has been brought down by the arteries. T...

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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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