Boing Boing 

Tech projects vein maps during blood donations

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is testing a technology to project a vein map on the arms of blood donors during the phlebotomy.

"Vein visualisation technology uses near infrared technology to project an image of the vein onto the skin," says Dr. Dan Waller, a senior researcher with the organization. "Veins have a lot of deoxygenated haemoglobin that absorbs near infrared light and the device is able to use this information to project the image. The machines have settings to manage individual differences.

"World-first vein viewing tech trial is... not in vain!" (Australian Red Cross)

More in US die from prescription narcotics than car crashes, guns, suicide

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More than 100 Americans die each day from prescription drug overdoses, mostly painkillers. That's more daily deaths than from car accidents, gunshot wounds, or suicides. In California, two county District Attorneys are suing five of the biggest drug companies in the world, and the lawsuits include the same kind of arguments once used against big tobacco industry, demanding "public protection."

Warren Olney's "To the Point" radio show has a segment on the topic today:

The companies are accused of a "campaign of deception" to persuade doctors that narcotic painkillers are safer than they really are. But the narcotic painkillers involved have been approved by the FDA. Is a government agency helping create a "population of addicts?" What's the role of physicians who write the prescriptions? Are they ill-informed, poorly trained or trying to make money?
More on the case at advocacy group harmreduction.org, and there's a Los Angeles Times writeup here.

Man survives chainsaw in the neck (X-ray!)

NewImage

This X-ray shows the chainsaw that was embedded in the neck of James Valentine, 21, of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, when he arrived at the hospital on Monday. After delicate surgery and just thirty stitches, he's now walking around and talking. Valentine said he was at work cutting trees when the chainsaw "kicked back" into his neck. The chainsaw stopped about 1/4 of an inch from the carotid artery that brings oxygenated blood to the head. His coworkers held the blade in place until medics took over. (CNN)

Successful implant of 3D printed skull

Skull

Utrecht neurosurgeons 3D-printed a large section of a skull and implanted it in a 22-year-old woman with a bone disorder. According to the University Medical Centre Utrecht, this is the first time such a large implant has been successful without rejection, so far anyway. After three months, the patient is back at work and, according to the surgeon, "it is almost impossible to see that she's ever had surgery." (Wired.co.uk, thanks Wes Allen!)

Medical curiosities in new Harvard Museums exhibit

Corrsion

This beautiful object is a corrosion cast of bronchi and trachea, c. 1880-1890, most likely from a rabbit, sheep, or dog. It's part of the new Body of Knowledge exhibition at the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture.

Corrosion casts have been part of anatomical teaching from the 17th century to the present, particularly for creating display specimens. A rapidly hardening substance, often metal or plastic, is injected into blood spaces or other cavities. Then the tissue is dissolved away by strong acids or bases. This cast was created using a mixture of bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium. After injection, the tissue was dissolved in potassium hydroxide.
Body of Knowledge: A History of Anatomy (in 3 Parts)

Dead man wasn't

ResurrectttttWalter Williams, 87, of Lexington, Mississippi was pronounced dead on Wednesday night. The coroner came to his home, did the paperwork, put him in a body bag, and transferred him to a funeral home. But then...

“We got him into the embalming room and we noticed his legs beginning to move, like kicking,” (coroner Dexter) Howard said. “He also began to do a little breathing.”

One possibility is that Williams's defibrillator fired up his heart after it had stopped. In any case, Williams is currently awake and talking in his hospital bed.

‘Dead man’ kicks his way out of body bag at funeral home

Man busted for stealing and selling brains from medical museum

InimanstealsbrainsDavid Charles, 21, was arrested for allegedly stealing jars of brain tissue from the Indiana Medical History Museum. Police tracked Charles down after a California fellow purchased the jars for $100 each on eBay. Museum director Mary Ellen Hennessey Nottage spoke to the man who bought the brains. "He just said he liked to collect odd things," Nottage said.

"Police: Man stole brains, sold them on eBay" (Indianapolis Star)

League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis documentary online

Last night's Frontline documentary about how the National Football League denies and hides overwhelming evidence linking the sport with brain injuries among its players is available for free online. (Trailer above.) The film is based on the book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth. It was written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN. The documentary was initially a collaboration between ESPN and PBS but back in August, ESPN abruptly pulled its affiliation with the project due to pressure from the NFL, according to the New York Times. In other news, go team!

Frontline: League of Denial (PBS.org)

Knife in man's back for 3 years

NewImageBilly McNeely of Canada's Northwest Territories was scratching his back when he noticed a pointy protrusion. Turned out to be the tip of a 7.5cm knife blade that was stuck in his back. For three years. Back in 2010, McNeely was stabbed in a brawl following an arm wrestling match. Since then, his back set off prison metal detectors and he's had pain, but he claims that physicians told him it was nerve damage caused by the injury. From BBC News:
But this week, McNeely, 32, was scratching his back as usual when his fingernail caught on something. His girlfriend took a look.

"I told Billy: 'There's a knife sticking out of your back.' I was scared. I was ready to pull it out with tweezers," Stephanie Sayine told CBC News.

McNeely is considering whether to file a lawsuit against the local health department.

"Knife taken from Billy McNeely's back after three years"

From Seizure to Surgery: first-person account of what it's like to have a brain tumor

Jess Hill has published the second part of a three-part series on what it’s like to have a brain tumor diagnosed, then surgically removed. Read: Magical Realism: From Seizure to Surgery. The earlier installment is here.

Building a "bionic man"

IMG 2209 This is Rex, a $1 million "bionic man" built in the UK by roboticists Richard Walker and Matthew Godden. Rex was the star of a new Channel 4 documentary titled "How to Build A Bionic Man." Rex is outfitted with a variety of synthetic systems and appendages, from prosthetic limbs to a cochlear implant, artificial pancreas to retinal implant. He's now on display at the London Science Museum but will visit America in October to promote the Smithsonian Channel's US premier of the documentary, retitled "Cyborg/Frankenstein."

Surgeon Simulator 2013 game

Bossa Studios created the surgery game "Surgeon Simulator 2013" in a weekend. It's somewhere between Operation, advanced medical training simulations, and splatterpunk films. From the description on Steam Greenlight:

You are Nigel Burke... an ordinary guy, with no outstanding skills. Somehow forced to perform an array of vastly complicated procedures, using any tools available. Your goal will be to complete every operation in the quickest time possible, with minimal blood loss!
"Surgeon Simulator 2013"

First-person account of emergency hospital evacuation in NYC after Sandy power outage

Image: CBS News

One of the focal points of the storm emergency in New York City last night was New York University's Langone Medical Center: the hospital's main and backup power generators all failed, and hospital staff had to evacuate patients as power resources faded. All but 50 patients have been evacuated, and the remaining 50 are due to be transferred this morning. Those patients included 20 prematurely-born newborn babies who were in intensive care. This morning, CBS News has a first-person account from Dr. Jonathan LaPook, a CBS News medical correspondent (also a board-certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology).

Many patients were too sick to walk down the narrow staircase to the lobby. They were painstakingly carried on plastic sleds - one by one - by teams of four to five people from as high up as the 17th floor. I went to several of the floors with Dr. Mark Pochapin, the director of the Division of Gastroenterology at NYU. He was one of a team of people making sure that communication flowed and that everybody was accounted for. The intensive care unit was already evacuated when I arrived. Lit only by my flashlight, filled with crumpled blankets and other evidence of a hasty retreat, it appeared eerie to me - like a scene in a movie where a cup of still-warm-coffee tells the detective that somebody had been a room only minutes before. But this was undeniably real life and the clock was ticking as the team of workers raced to evacuate the patients.

Read more: "Inside NYC hospital's near disaster during Sandy" (CBS This Morning)

Father performs "Let it Be" to raise funds for his 11-month-old's cancer bills

[Video Link] "On July 5th, 2012, my 11-month-old son, Noah, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor," writes Mike Masse in the introduction to this YouTube video, a beautiful performance of the Beatles' "Let it Be."

Details on the fundraiser here.

In America, little boys have to start lemonade stands when their fathers get cancer. In America, fathers have to do what Mike is doing here when their sons get cancer.

No parent should have to bare their grief to the world, no matter how beautifully, to beg for money to cover the life-saving medical treatment their baby needs. As you see the beauty, be mindful of the injustice in our health care system this represents.

Cancer is one tragedy. The way our country treats people with cancer, even when they're little babies, is another.

(HT: Joe Sabia)

Breast cancer conversations on Twitter, visualized in real time

Here's a cool data viz project from GE that displays real-time conversational spreads about breast cancer on Twitter. (thanks, Laura Hollister)

iPhone app makes a game of monitoring pain for young cancer patients

[Video Link] Canada's Hospital for Sick Children (aka SickKids) and the Cundari creative agency are developing a iPhone app called "Pain Squad" to help monitor and report physical pain and emotional wellness in young cancer patients. Snip from a post on Springwise:

Using the narrative of a police force hunting down pain, users are inducted as a rookie officer working on the case. Patients fill out a daily survey – which asks questions relating to whether they felt pain that day, how intense it was and its location – and can progress through the ranks of the force when they keep their records updated. The concept was created by Toronto-based media agency Cundari, who got stars from Rookie Blue and Flashpoint – two primetime cop shows in Canada – to appear in videos that are unlocked when patients do well and progress the narrative. By gamifying the process, the app gives patients an incentive to keep a daily journal of their pain. The app is still in the testing phase but SickKids hopes to release it later this year.

Read the rest

“My breast has fallen off. Can you reattach it?”

Atlanta Magazine has an interview with Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., and an excerpt from his new book "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America."

The excerpt tells the story of 53-year-old Edna Riggs, of Atlanta, Georgia. Fear of cancer, medical debt, and losing her job caused her to not seek treatment for her breast cancer until it reached a very advanced state.

(Graphic content, may be upsetting; via @rogersmatthew)

On the history of books bound in human flesh

From "the chirurgeon's apprentice," a fascinating and squick-inducing blog/website devoted to chronicling "the horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery," an entry about the history of books bound in tanned human skin. Snip from details about the image shown above:

And then there were books which claimed to be made from the human flesh but were, in fact, not. One example comes from the Wellcome Collection in London [left]. It is a curious little notebook which professes to be ‘made of Tanned skin of the Negro whose Execution caused the War of Independence’. Presumably, this refers to Crispus Attucks, a dockworker of Wampanoag who was the first person killed by the British during the Boston Massacre. Immediately following his death, Attucks was held up as an American martyr. As a consequence of its alleged origins, this notebook has become a symbol of the American Revolution.

More. And if you enjoy tweets about 17th-century surgery, you'll want to follow Lindsey Fitzharris, the medical historian behind the "Chirurgeon’s Apprentice" website. (via Vaughan Bell)

Are you ready for your 3D mammogram?

Via my friend and fellow cancer-warrior Francesco Fondi of Wired (Italy), news that Fujifilm in Japan is launching what it calls "Real 3D Mammography," a medical imaging system that enables technicians to view mammographic images in a kind of 3D. The idea is to see and interpret the detail of internal anatomical breast structures more clearly than is currently possible with a 2D image.

The new system costs about $181K, and is designed to work with "Amulet f," Fujifilm's digital X-ray equipment for breast cancer screening (sold separately). I hereby volunteer to be a test hamster for this thing some day, even though I realize the radiation payload is a little higher with this than with current mammography. But wow, I'd love to see this level of detail about what is going on inside my body right now, as I go through chemotherapy.

Takuya Otani, reporting in Nikkei Electronics & Digital Health Online:

Because the three-dimensional structures of breast tissues can be checked all at the same time, it is possible to determine if a tumor mass is in contact with a mammary gland as well as to measure the depth of microcalcification, Fujifilm said.

When a picture of a breast is taken with the Amulet f, it takes two images from different angles. Then, by displaying the two images on a special LCD monitor and using polarized glasses, it becomes possible to see a 3D image.

The special monitor is manufactured by combining two LCD monitors and a part called "half mirror." (...)When the Amulet f is used to take pictures, a patient is exposed to X-ray radiation twice. But, with Fujifilm's own methods of taking and processing images, the total amount of X-ray increases by only 30-50%, compared with a normal mammography, the company said.

Read more. At the Fujifilm website, an explainer with images including the one shown above.

Two images are displayed on the two high-definition monitors. By wearing the polarized 3D glasses, a 3D image can be viewed through the half mirror.

Open medical knowledge saves lives: Oppose H.R. 3699

Here's a terrific article by Gilles Frydman at e-patients.net advocating for opposition to H.R. 3699, aka The Research Works Act (RWA). The bill before Congress would seriously impede "the ability of patients and caregivers, researchers, physicians and healthcare professionals to access and use critical health-related information in a timely manner." (@timoreilly via @epatientdave)

Empowered health through technology: video contest with cash prize

The US Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is hosting a Healthy New Year Video Challenge with cash prizes of up to $2,000. They're soliciting short videos with the theme of a New Year’s resolution for improving your health or the health of a loved one, through technology.

"Videos must show how you will use information technology to achieve your resolution and how you plan to maintain it," according to the contest website. The sort of topics one might address (one per video) include obtaining your health records from your doctors and learning how to read and understand their contents, finding online support communities for a specific illness, or direct health improvement actions like using an electronic pedometer to track physical activity, or an iPhone app to count calories or monitor sleep cycles.

Submissions are accepted through February 16. You have to be a US citizen over 18 to participate. More rules here. (thanks, Lygeia Ricciardi!)