Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Angelina Jolie and Risk Reduction Surgery

You may remember the story of Angelina Jolie's decision to have her breasts removed as she was a very high risk for breast cancer. Now, she's undergone further surgery to remove her tubes and ovaries.

From the NY Times:

“Prophylactic removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes is strongly recommended in women before age 40 in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers,” said Dr. Susan Domchek, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Basser Research Center, which specializes in BRCA mutations. “There is no effective screening for ovarian cancer and too many women with advanced stage ovarian cancer die of their disease.”

Writing for The New York Times’s Op-Ed page, Ms. Jolie Pitt, 39, said she had expected to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, a procedure called a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, but that a cancer scare made her decide to undergo the procedure sooner. Her mother, aunt and grandmother died of cancer.

“To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it,” she wrote.

Two years ago, she ignited a worldwide discussion about options for women at high risk for breast cancer when she wrote that she had had both breasts removed because BRCA1, the same genetic mutation that prompted her surgery last week, increased her risk of breast cancer.


Allow me to clear up one misconception. This is not "Prophylactic Surgery" but rather Risk Reduction Surgery. Even following removal of the tubes and ovaries, there is a small residual risk of cancer inside the abdominal cavity, histologically identical to ovarian cancer.

For more info, you can go here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nice Work If You Can Get It

To Commemorate NY's Silver Debacle, I've played with the lyrics to a Dire Straits Classic.

$$$ Por NADA

Look at them yo yo's - that's the way you do it
Legislators in the L.O.B.
That ain't working - that's the way you do it
Money for nothing and your trips for free.
Now that ain't working that's the way you do it
Lemme tell ya those pols ain't dumb
Maybe holding more fundraisers
Maybe give taxpayers a crumb

We gotta drain the stinking swamp
Democracy Recovery
We must remove the legislators
We owe it to our progeny

I shoulda learned to get donations
I shoulda learned to raise the funds
Look at that charmer muggin for the camera
Man we coulda had some fun
Look he's up there, makin campaign noises
Kissing babies for them all to see
That ain't working, that's the way you do it
Money for nothin and your trips for free

We gotta drain the stinking swamp
Democracy Recovery
We must remove the legislators
We owe it to our progeny

Now that ain't working, that's the way you do it
Money for nothin get your trips for free
Money for nothin and your trips for free

Term Limits Anyone?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD penned a controversial opinion piece for The Atlantic on why he would hope to die at 75. This piece created a firestorm of pushback, including a resolution at the recent interim AMA meeting by MSSNY's own Greg Pinto, MD to rebuke Dr. Emanuel. While the resolution was ultimately defeated, Dr. Pinto's principled stance was not the only voice heard in opposition to Dr. Emanuel. One piece in particular by Brant Mittler MD JD was posted on MedpageToday.

My reaction to Zeke's article is one of disgust and outrage. Even if he is the smartest guy in the room, he's dumb when it comes to understanding what the average person wants. How dare he claim to know that someone over age 75 who walks slowly, has some memory lapses, and has some medical disabilities and limited resources doesn't deserve to enjoy music, sunsets, or the company of children and grandchildren?

And why will Zeke stop at age 75? When will he and his political cronies -- of both major political parties -- decide that a disabled paraplegic wounded warrior is consuming more than he is contributing?

While Emanuel claims he's only musing about his own personal decision to forgo colonoscopy after age 65 and flu shots, antibiotics, cancer care, and doctor visits after age 75, his writings are dangerous because they influence major media and national leaders.

The subtitle of this irresponsible article proves he wants to influence you to follow his lead, while he admits at the end of the article he reserves the right to change his mind. Sure, you jump off the cliff first. Zeke will follow you. Not.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola: Don't Believe The Hype

There's a lot of news about Ebola lately. It's tough to separate concern from hyperbole. The Medical Society of the State of New York has provided this presentation by Dr. William Valenti, an Infectious Disease specialist, on Ebola. This was originally a webinar geared toward physicians so please forgive me if it seems overly technical. However, if you're a physician, this is definitely must see.



I do hope you find this helpful.

Monday, September 8, 2014

3D Trumps 2D For Localizing IUD's

In the August issue of OBG Management, NYU's Dr.Steven R. Goldstein penned an article suggesting that we stop relying on the standard 2D ultrasound for localizing an IUD. The reason: that 3D or volume ultrasound allows visualization of planes, specifically a coronal plane, not often seen on the standard sonogram. Why is this important? Read on.

Dr. Goldstein's article demonstrates several images from studies in which the IUD's location doesn't look unusual on the 2D image. However, in the coronal plane of 3D imaging, a problem is demonstrated. Benacerraf et al found that 75% of patients with abnormally situated IUD's presented with either pain or bleeding - more than twice the rate of women whose IUD's were found normally situated. We recently saw a young woman who had been in the Emergency Department complaining of pelvic pain for whom the diagnosis of her problem was far from clear. Visualization of the IUD in the coronal plane of her 3D sonogram clearly showed that not only was the device malpositioned in the lower uterus but one of the lateral arms penetrated the wall as well.

So now that you know a 3D study is superior, where should it be done? My answer would be more shameless self-promotion. For more information or to schedule a 3D ultrasound, please call (718) 925-6277.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shameless Self-Promotion

Many patients, colleagues, friends and family have all asked me: "Who's the most qualified to perform Ob-Gyn ultrasounds?" So here is my unvarnished and completely biased opinion.

An ultrasound study can be performed by either a sonographer or a sonologist (a doctor who performs or supervises ultrasounds.) However, a doctor will have a more extensive background in both health and disease processes than someone who is not a physician as a general rule. A physician will have spent far more time on the clinical side of the equation so will be more able to formulate a better differential diagnosis.

Now while a radiologist and gynecologist can both perform a decent pelvic ultrasound study, a gynecologist is generally far more familiar with female pelvic physiology and pathophysiology than a general radiologist. When it comes to a vaginal ultrasound, this shouldn't even be a question. An old friend once remarked that if radiologists performed vaginal sonography, the transducer handle would be long enough to reach into the reading room. Instead, most if not all radiologists read the studies performed by sonographers. A gynecologist performs a vaginal sonogram in much the same way an old-fashioned pelvic exam is performed, even down to occasionally using the abdominal hand.

Also, when a sonographer performs a sonogram in the standard radiology practice, the patient usually has to leave without knowing the result. When a gynecologist performs the exam, the result, at least preliminarily, is available right away. This eliminates a great deal of anziety.

OK, so now we've agreed your pelvic sonogram is best performed by an Ob-Gyn, why should it be performed by THIS "Recovering Obstetrician?" The short answer is Experience. I have been performing Ob-Gyn sonography since the late 1970's and exclusively since 1986. Since that time, when I decided to limit my practice to consultative ultrasound, I have had a chance to learn what works, what doesn't work, and have climbed to the summit of a rather steep learning curve. I've also learned a great deal about how to deal with both anxious patients and concerned referring clinicians. Do keep all this in mind if and when you need an ultrasound.

Thanks for reading. This concludes my infomercial.

For more information or to schedule an ultrasound, please call 718-925-6277.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on Infertility

I've posted on the present epidemic of low vitamin D previously. Now we find yet another association of low levels of Vitamin D - Infetility.

Publishing in the European Journal of Endocrinology, researchers Elizabeth Lerchbaum and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch performed a systematic review of studies published until October of 2011. A short summary of their results from PubMed:

The vitamin D receptor (VDR) and vitamin D metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. Vdr knockout mice have significant gonadal insufficiency, decreased sperm count and motility, and histological abnormalities of testis, ovary and uterus. Moreover, we present evidence that vitamin D is involved in female reproduction including IVF outcome (clinical pregnancy rates) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In PCOS women, low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels are associated with obesity, metabolic, and endocrine disturbances and vitamin D supplementation might improve menstrual frequency and metabolic disturbances in those women. Moreover, vitamin D might influence steroidogenesis of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) in healthy women and high 25(OH)D levels might be associated with endometriosis. In men, vitamin D is positively associated with semen quality and androgen status. Moreover, vitamin D treatment might increase testosterone levels. Testiculopathic men show low CYP21R expression, low 25(OH)D levels, and osteoporosis despite normal testosterone levels.

While more work needs to be done, the impact of Vitamin D on both the male and female reproductive systems is far-reaching and still poorly understood. Stay tuned.

For more information or to schedule a sonogram, please call 718-925-6722.