lunes, 30 de octubre de 2017

Groundbreaking surgery may prevent worst effects of spina bifida

Groundbreaking surgery may prevent worst effects of spina bifida

Groundbreaking surgery may prevent worst effects of spina bifida
A team of American surgeons have pioneered a groundbreaking surgical technique that may prevent many of the severe health problems caused by spina bifida.
Spina bifida is congenital defect involving an abnormal development of the spine. It is caused by an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord, and can lead to serious health problems such as impaired mobility, incontinence, and an accumulation of fluid in the brain. Many parents chose to terminate their pregnancy when they discover their child has the condition.
Yet surgeons from Baylor College of Medicine, led gynecologist Dr Michael A. Belfort, are hopeful that they can stop some of the worst effects of spina bifida through an early intervention during pregnancy.
Rather than attempting an operation within the mother's body, the new technique involves a temporary removal of the womb that allows doctors better access to spinal cord of the fetus.
Using a “fetoscope” and special surgical tools, doctors drain amniotic fluid from the back of the fetus and seal the skin over spinal cord to prevent further exposure. The womb is then inserted back into the mother.
Results from 28 cases in which the operation has been performed were reported in an August edition of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. The intervention does not appear to have negative effects on the outcome of the pregnancy, and it vastly decreases the likelihood of mobility problems for the child. Fetuses who receive the surgery are much less likely to need a shunt, though children still often need a catheter to pass urine.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Stories like this have surfaced in BioEdge before, but I have always found them quite touching. We report below that researchers have found that a Neanderthal who lived in a large cave in Iraq about 50,000 years ago was terribly handicapped. Not only was he blind in one eye, missing a forearm, and crippled, but he was also profoundly deaf. With Pleistocene lions and tigers prowling in the neighbourhood, this was a big handicap for a forager.

How did he survive? His clan cared for him, tended to his needs, healed his wounds and protected him. He died at the ripe old age of 40 or 50 (equivalent to about 80 nowadays). Obviously Thomas Hobbes' infamous maxim -- that the life of man outside society is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" -- needs to be revised. Primitive as they were, these Neanderthals had their own family-based version of Obamacare.

Michael Cook


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