From the January 2014 issue of the journal Case Reports in Emergency Medicine: "While report of animal bites contaminating wounds is reported commonly, direct wound contamination with squirrel flesh has never been reported in the literature." Until now.
This is a story that involves a teenage boy, a 12 gauge shotgun, an injury to the right buttock, and (last, but not least) a squirrel.
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According to the patient he was using the butt of his 12 G shotgun to dislodge a dead squirrel from a branch over his head during a hunting trip and shot himself with a load of birdshot in the right buttock. He presented with stable vital signs and reported no pain other than at the wound.
On physical exam the patient appeared in no distress with mild tachycardia with a heart rate of 116. A cm deep wound on the right buttocks was hemostatic (Figure 1). The edges of the wound were black and ragged, while there was circumferential surrounding erythema that extended 4 cm beyond the wound. Rectal exam revealed normal tone without gross blood and no palpable foreign bodies near the rectum. Debris was observed in the margin of the wound. The rural transporting EMS personnel promptly identified the material as “squirrel parts.”
Copious wound irrigation with saline irrigation and debridement occurred in the emergency room, during which more pieces of animal flesh were found grossly contaminating the wound. There was also concern that the trajectory and final positioning of the buckshot in his buttock rested near the anus (Figure 2).
A comb jelly (University of Florida).
A scientist in Florida who studies simple sea animals known as comb jellies says he has discovered a path to a new form of brain development that may one day lead to treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Read the rest
Do you have experience with sleep paralysis? Many scientists believe that sleep paralysis is the biological answer to such mysteries as spirit visitations, alien abductions, incubi/succubi, and out-of-body experiences. My old friend Rodney Ascher, director of the excellent film Room 237 and other movies, is making a documentary about the phenomenon and would love to hear from you. Rodney writes:
I'm working on on a new film - it's about Sleep Paralysis, a surprisingly common phenomenon where people wake-up totally frozen from the eyeballs down, unable even to make a noise, and they frequently see sinister intruders and other disturbing visions. I've been obsessed with it ever since it used to happen with me (in my case, I saw sort of a living, 3D shadow looming over in me in judgement).
The film is going to be largely built on interviews with people who've had vivid, first-person experiences with it (and have given some serious thought to what's really happening to them) - if anyone wants to share their stories, the easiest way is to contact us via the film's Facebook page.
The Nightmare: A Nonfiction Film About An Unreal Experience Read the rest
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You are Not So Smart is hosted by David McRaney, a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. In each episode, David explores cognitive biases and delusions, and is often joined by a guest expert. David concludes each episode by eating a delicious cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener.
Where is the line between medicine and alternative medicine? Are Eastern medicine and Western medicine truly at odds, and if so, who is right and who is wrong? What harm is there in using complementary or integrative treatments in an effort to improve wellness?
In this episode we discuss alternative medicine with Tim Farley, creator and curator of What's The Harm, a website that tracks the harmful effects that result from seeking out alternative treatments and cures before or instead of seeking out science-based medicine. Tim also created the website Skeptical Software Tools, and he tweets at @krelnik.
This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code PIPE.
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With Obama pledging in the latest State of the Union address to finally shutter the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay -- something he's been promising to do since his 2008 election campaign -- it's worth revisiting the people who remain imprisoned there, more than a decade after the GW Bush administration declared its War on Terror.
There are 155 men in Guantanamo. 77 have been cleared for transfer but there is no country to which they can be sent. 45 men are in "indefinite detention" -- unable to be prosecuted, often because of the brutal torture inflicted on them by Guantanamo's jailers, but unable to be released because the US government considers them to be a threat. 31 more are awaiting prosecution.
This month, the American Psychology Association dropped all proceedings against a member who designed, oversaw, and participated in the torture at Guantanamo. They had previously denied a request to censure other members who participated in torture.
The protocol designed by John Leso, the doctor that the APA will not censure, involved intravenously hydrating a victim until he urinated on himself; sleep deprivation; forcing the victim to bark like a dog; keeping the victim naked and subjecting him to extreme cold; spinning the victim in a swiveling chair to disorient him; putting the victim into stress positions; depriving the victim of mattresses and other bedding; keeping the victim in isolation from all human contact; and more.
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case study in the New England Journal of Medicine details the tragic story of an electrician who received a shock of 14,000V and was blinded as part of his injuries. Accompanying the article is this striking photo of the scars on his eyes, which resemble the plasma ball effects, the sort of thing you'd expect from a science fiction movie.
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Adermatoglyphia is a very rare genetic condition causing you to be born without fingerprints. In 2011, a small group of researchers pinpointed the genetic mutation behind it. One of them, dermatologist Peter Itin, was drawn to the mystery after he was contacted by a Swiss woman who found trouble at the US border when immigration agents couldn't take her prints… because she doesn't have any. "Adermatoglyphia: The Genetic Disorder Of People Born Without Fingerprints" (Smithsonian) Read the rest
For once, the answer to a question in the headline is, "Well, quite possibly."
It's been 100 years since a well-documented case of penis captivus — i.e., penis-stuck-in-vagina syndrome — appeared in the medical literature. But that doesn't mean it's a total myth. The BBC's Health Check discusses the physiological mechanisms that could lead to such an unpleasant event and explains why there are lots of anecdotal stories surrounding something that's thought to be "vanishingly rare" from a medical perspective. Hint: While very, very, very few people end up needing medical treatment for penis captivus, there may be many more who get temporarily-but-disconcertingly stuck for a few seconds.
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Changsha, China resident Xio Wei's hand was severed in an accident so physicians attached it to his ankle. That kept the hand alive for a month until it was reattached to his arm. Read the rest
Every year, more than 2000 Americans experience a serious negative effect (either death or illness) from taking over-the-counter dietary supplements. Since 1994, it's been legal to sell supplements without prior safety testing. Even when someone gets sick, the burden of proof is on the FDA to prove the supplement caused it, rather than on the supplement company to prove it didn't. The Dallas Morning News
reports on the lack of oversight and what it costs us. Read the rest
In 1972, Franken Berry cereal, then a brand new product, was the subject of a paper in the medical journal Pediatrics because it caused a 12-year-old to have red poop. He had been hospitalized for several days for what appeared to be rectal bleeding but turned out to have been the red dye (FD&C Red No. 2 and No. 3) in the Franken Berry. In related news, Booberry can turn your stool green. "Benign Red Pigmentation of Stool Resulting from Food Coloring in a New Breakfast Cereal (The Franken Berry Stool)
" (Pediatrics via Smithsonian) Read the rest
Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has put together an amazing four-part story about medical students entering a human dissection lab
for the first time. Interweaving the stories of the students, their teachers, and people who have chosen to donate their bodies to science, the series really gives you a sense of how emotionally intense the experience can be for students, and how it brings together all these different lives. Powerful stuff. Read the rest
Pap smears — the pre-cancer-screening that most women get annually when they visit a gynecologist — should only cost about $20 or $30, writes Dr. Cheryl Bettigole in The New England Journal of Medicine. So, why then, are more women (and/or their insurance companies) paying much, much more
— sometimes upwards of $1000? A big part of the problem is add-on tests — extra screenings that haven't been shown to make women healthier, but do add a lot to the cost of an annual exam. Turns out, medical laboratories have started marketing these pap+ tests, using some of the same techniques pharmaceutical companies have long used to sell more expensive treatments to doctors. Read the rest
If the cells that make up your body are little factories, then the shipping department just picked up a Nobel Prize this morning with the award for physiology or medicine going to researchers Randy Schekman of the University of California at Berkeley, James Rothman of Yale University, and Thomas Südhof of Stanford. These scientists don't work together, but their research does overlap and play off each other in important ways. In fact, this isn't the first time some of these men have shared major research awards.
What makes their work so important? It's really all about increasing our understanding of how individual cells operate and participate in major bodily systems like immunity or hormone control. If you built little models of cells back in grade school, you probably have a mental image of them as a sort of lumpy sack with a couple of things inside — a big fat nucleus and some squirrelly little mitochondria, mostly. But it turns out that there's a lot more happening in the interior of a cell than that. Much of that activity is centered around vesicles — bubbles in the fluid that fills a cell. There are many different kinds of vesicles doing many different jobs, but one of the important things they do is move molecules, either within the cell or from the cell to the outside world. Read the rest
I've been describing this Slate piece as the most awesome thing I really should not have read at 38 weeks pregnant. For decades, doctors thought that a pregnant woman whose heart stopped had pretty much no chance of survival. After trying to resuscitate her, attention would shift to rescuing the baby. But recent research suggests a better solution: Spend less time trying to get the mother's heart pumping again
. Not only does it give the infants a better shot at survival, it also, insanely enough, saves more mothers. Turns out, once somebody removes the other human from your body, your failed heart will often just start pumping again on its own. Read the rest