Each month we try to bring you the top five most compelling stories in recent medical news. Keep reading to learn about how hypothermia can lead to better kidney transplants, how a little boy became the first child two receive a double hand transplant, the new FDA approved weight loss device, and more!
- Physician Burnout More Severe Than Ever
According to a report from Medscape, the number of self-reported instances of “physician burnout” has increased by 16% since 2013. The physician misery index reported by Geneia is an alarming 3.7 out of 5. Responses found in these reports seem to indicate that most physicians do still love medicine, but bureaucratic challenges and extreme work schedules have led to an immense amount of frustration for physicians. Burnout can negatively affect patient care and increases the likelihood that a physician will leave their practice.
- 8-Year Old Receives First Pediatric Double Hand Transplant
Zion Harvey recently became the first child in the world to receive a bilateral hand transplant after a 10-hour operation that required 4 teams of surgeons from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Medicine. Dr. Scott Levin, Director of the Hand Transplantation Program at CHOP, notes "this surgery was the result of years of training, followed by months of planning and preparation by a remarkable team” after his colleagues at Penn Medicine performed their first successful bilateral hand transplant on an adult in 2011. Zion lost both his hands several years ago due to a severe infection, and this remarkable surgery will hopefully let him realize his dream of one day being able to throw a football.
- Fat Is Now One Of Our Basic Tastes
Researchers at Purdue University published a study in an online chemoreception journal that claims that “oleogustus” should be added as a sixth taste sense alongside sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. The study showed that the taste of fat and fatty acids produces a unique gustatory sensation that participants were able to differentiate from bitter, umami, or salty. Richard Mattes PhD, a prominent professor of nutrition science who helped author the study, says "By building a lexicon around fat and understanding its identity as a taste, it could help the food industry develop better-tasting products and with more research help clinicians and public health educators better understand the health implications of oral fat exposure. "
- Kidney Transplants And Hypothermia
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has indicated that by inducing a mild state of hypothermia in organ donors, kidney transplants could be made more efficient. This finding could provide major cost savings, as researchers discovered that cooling the body of deceased organ donors by a mere 2 degrees Celsius below normal body temperature resulted in a 38% decrease of delayed graft function for patients receiving the transplants. Current transplant protocols mandate that bodies of organ donors be kept at the body’s normal temperature, which usually requires that the bodies are actively warmed.
- “Belly Balloon” Approved For Weight Loss
The FDA has approved the ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System, an internally planted balloon device, as a non-surgical treatment to help combat obesity. After putting a patient under mild sedation, the device is placed in the stomach through the mouth during a non-invasive outpatient procedure. The balloon is then filled with a sterile solution, taking up space in the stomach and creating a feeling of fullness for the patient. Right now the FDA has only approved use of this treatment for obese patients who have at least one obesity-related condition, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.