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Can we live forever? Well, no. But with the introduction of so many improvements in medical technology and treatments, the possibilities of at least extending our life expectancy are increasing.
Local healthcare providers are excited to share the many new and improved ways they care for patients. From head to toe, they’ve got you covered:
1. Premium Intraocular Lens (IOL) Implant – For cataract patients, surgery is necessary, but the traditional IOL only offered vision for one distance – far, intermediate or near. The Premium IOL, says Beth Kolnok, director of marketing for Vistar Eye Center, is multifocal, giving cataract patients the possibility to see well at more than one distance.
“As many active baby boomers are reaching the age of 60, more of them will be affected by cataracts,” she says. Premium IOLs provide “a major improvement in overall satisfaction with cataract surgery.”
2. Lucentis – A prescription medicine that is injected into the eye, Lucentis treats patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. AMD, Kolnok says, is a chronic condition that occurs in two forms, wet and dry, and “steals” vision. Traditional treatment options slow or stop vision loss. With Lucentis, used for wet AMD, patients have seen an improvement in vision.
3. Cirrus HD OCT – This new technology helps doctors identify signs of glaucoma and other retinal diseases, and is also used to monitor the patient’s condition and effectiveness of treatment. It is a more advanced imaging tool than most options because it uses high-definition technology to take millions of images of the back of the eye.
“This new technology takes the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases to a new level,” says Richard Johnson, M.D., Ophthalmologist, LewisGale Physicians. “By combining this technology with a thorough eye exam, we are able to detect problems sooner and help the patient avoid vision loss.”
4. Lenstar LS900 – Using light instead of sound waves to determine the length and anatomy of the eye, Lenstar LS900 helps doctors determine the best fitting implant to be used during cataract surgery.
“In less than 30 seconds with a single scan, this technology can calculate eye measurements,” says Joy Sutton, marketing communications manager for LewisGale. “During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is replaced with the implant. Choosing the right implant is important because it gives the patient a better chance of not needing glasses following surgery.”
5. Lyric – The world’s first 100 percent invisible extended-wear hearing device, Lyric is placed deep in the ear canal – no surgery or anesthesia required – and can be used everyday for up to four months at a time. According to Allison Buth, media relations specialist with Carilion Clinic, Lyric uses the ear’s anatomy to provide exceptional sound quality.
“Carilion Clinic is proud to be one of the select healthcare organizations in the United States (and the only provider in the region) to offer the Lyric hearing device to its patients,” Buth says.
6. Concussion Protocols – A team of orthopaedic surgeons, neuropsychologists and emergency room physicians with Carilion Clinic has developed new protocols for treating concussions, which include cognitive rest and increased recovery time. Based on guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, says Buth, these protocols are designed to educate athletic trainers, coaches and parents to ensure athletes receive proper care.
7. Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) – Currently the only FDA-approved laser protocol for the treatment of periodontal disease, LANAP is less painful, has a higher success rate and offers a faster recovery time than traditional treatments. Traditional treatments involve use of a scalpel to grind away bone and teeth.
“This is quite a step forward in the dental community, says Josh Nelson, vice president and general manager of Harvey Dentistry & Blue Ridge Dental Group. “Several of our doctors have this technology at their disposal and are well trained.”
8. CEREC & Digital Impressions – Patients needing a crowned tooth can have a new crown in a matter of hours instead of weeks thanks to CEREC. The dentist, Nelson explains, can design the new tooth on a computer with CAD/CAM technology. Using a digital impression, the dentist shows a patient how the new tooth will look with surrounding teeth. The design is then sent to the in-office milling unit, where a new tooth is milled out of a porcelain block.
9. CI Photon Camera – New technology for imaging the heart with a small camera has emerged at LewisGale Medical Center. The equipment features a chair design that allows for ease of patient exchange and a comfortable scanning position. Its cardiac imaging positioning ensures minimum heart-to-detector distance with no possibility of detector pinch. Plus, explains Sutton, the upright sitting position minimizes patient movement while they are scanned.
10. Cardiac Catheterization – A new approach to cardiac catheterization at both LewisGale and Carilion involves insertion through the wrist instead of the groin area to conduct angiograms, which detect blockages in the heart.
According to Sutton, this technique offers patients a decreased risk of bleeding and discomfort following the procedure.
11. Hypothermia Therapy – When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the brain and other organs compete for the diminishing supply of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage. According to Buth, Carilion Clinic recently introduced hypothermia therapy to cool the body, which slows metabolism and reduces the brain’s need for oxygen. This gives rescue workers and doctors more time to treat the cardiac arrest and prevent or reduce brain damage.
12. Lead Extraction – Thanks to a minimally invasive technique, Carilion Clinic doctors can extract lead from inside the heart of a patient with a pacemaker. Instead of major surgery, a laser is used to remove the lead through the same incision in which a pacemaker was inserted. Lead must be removed when it is damaged, large amounts of scar tissue surround it, infection occurs, or there is blockage of the vein by a clot or tissue.
13. Interventional Pulmonology – Patients with lung cancer and airway diseases no longer have to travel out of town for treatment. The interventional pulmonology program at Carilion Clinic offers laser therapy to treat difficult airway cases and has expanded the availability of cryotherapy, rigid bronchoscopy and airway stenting.
“Endobronchial ultrasound procedures have facilitated the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer and other pathology, avoiding the need for more invasive surgical procedures,” says Buth. “Due to this success, the clinic is adding another endobronchial ultrasound system.”
14. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) – The Advanced Wound Center at LewisGale Medical Center has two new hyperbaric oxygen chambers offering the latest technology for accelerated wound healing. HBOT, says Sutton, delivers pure oxygen under pressure, which promotes the healing of damaged tissue. Patients suffering from certain diabetic wounds that are healing slowly or not at all, tissue damage from radiation therapy, a skin graft with inadequate blood supply or certain infections of the bone and/or skin, can benefit from HBOT
“More than 7 million people in the U.S. will suffer from chronic, non-healing wounds this year, and that number is growing 10 percent every year,” says Michael Walton, program director. “We are excited that the Advanced Wound Center at LewisGale has the medical expertise, technology, and state-of-the-art therapies to accelerate the healing rates of our patients.”
HBOT also is available at Carilion.
15. Molecular Imaging Equipment – LewisGale offers a new PET/CT machine with upgrades for patient comfort and decreased scan times, allowing doctors to stage and monitor cancer patients. The machine also is used to perform a unique heart study to look for areas of the heart that can be fixed after a heart attack.
The state-of-the-art molecular imaging equipment also is utilized for traditional oncology and Na-F PET bone imaging.
16. Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) – Another treatment brought to the area by Carilion, EUS evaluates and treats diseases of the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon and rectum. EUS allows for screening both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases, says Buth. It is diagnostic in nature and identifies if something is cancerous or not, and helps in staging cancers, which determines the treatment plan.
17. Minimally Invasive Total Disc Replacement – This spine surgery technique – performed at LewisGale and Carilion – involves removing the diseased disc and replacing it with an artificial version. Benefits include smaller incisions, less surgical blood loss, shorter hospital stays, less pain and medication post-operatively and faster return to daily activities.
“These techniques allow for far less post-operative pain and discomfort, while allowing the surgeon to perform the same surgery in an improved, and more advanced manner,” says James Leipzig, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon at LewisGale.
18. Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) – Dr. Gregory Riebel with Virginia Orthopaedic offers TLIF, which combines the benefits of comprehensive open surgery with the benefits of minimally invasive technology. It also is available at LewisGale and Carilion. According to Sutton, the procedure involves joining two or more vertebrae together by inserting a bone graft or bone graft substitute between the vertebrae in order to fuse them together and create a more stable spine.
“Major spinal procedures can be done through very small incisions with specially engineered spinal retraction systems, with visualization of the spine through state-of-the-art radiologic and microscopic assisted devices,” says Dr. Riebel. “Patients benefit through rapid recovery, due to smaller incisions, much lower blood loss, less pain and less tissue trauma.”
19. Anterior Hip Replacement – Performed by making a four- to five-inch incision in the front of the hip instead of the typical 10- to 12-inch incision in the side or back of the hip, anterior hip replacement is available locally at Carilion Clinic. This method allows surgeons to work through a natural interval among the muscles surronding the hip, sparing tissue from trauma and a lengthy healing process, says Buth. Other benefits include reduced blood loss, reduced tissue healing and a patient’s ability to avoid the pain of sitting on the incision.
20. Genetic Services – Carilion Clinic offers comprehensive genetic counseling services for children, adults and prospective parents. Plus, Carilion houses the only prenatal genetic counselors in the region.
At LewisGale, clinical genetics counseling options offered to high risk patients include increased cancer screening, chemoprevention and risk-reducing surgery, such as a total hysterectomy. Genetic counseling is available for a variety of cancers, including breast, ovarian, uterine, pancreatic, colon and melanoma.
“The Department of Clinical Genetics will soon provide maternal-fetal counseling as well for common genetic disorders including Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and spina bifida,” says Kara Bui, a certified genetics counselor who heads up the new Department of Clinical Genetics for LewisGale.
21. Bioness Technology – A new wireless medical technology, Bioness Ness L300 Foot Drop System at LewisGale assists patients affected by central nervous system injuries and disorders – such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries – to regain the ability to walk.
“Foot drop results from an injury or illness that paralyzes or weakens foot and ankle muscles, making walking difficult,” Sutton says. “Three unobtrusive components that patients wear under their clothing enable the system to help restore their natural movement when walking. When the patient lifts the heel, these components communicate with each other wirelessly and send low-level electrical impulses that cause the nerves to contract muscles responsible for lifting the foot during walking.”
22. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Cycle – Using electrical stimulation to exercise muscles and improve mobility, the FES Cycle (a wired stationary bicycle) is ideal for patients following a spinal cord injury or stroke. It’s also appropriate for patients with multiple sclerosis. The cycle helps build muscle, strength and circulation. FES is available at LewisGale and Carilion.
23. da Vinci Robotic System – According to Buth, the da Vinci robotic system at Carilion increases dexterity in minimally invasive surgery that typically is unavailable with routine laparoscopy. It allows for more complex surgery, traditionally done by a laparotomy, to be done laparoscopically. The system provides better treatment options and can now be used for laparoscopic hysterectomies, myomectomies, adnexal surgery, severe endometriosis, pelvic adhesive disease, sacralcolpopexies, oncologic staging of uterine and ovarian cancer, radical hysterectomies and tumor debulking.
24. Melanoma Clinical Trial – LewisGale Regional Cancer Center in Salem is serving as the clinical site for a melanoma study that could lead to a new treatment. Conducted by Blue Ridge Cancer Care, the study involves using a modified version of the herpes simplex virus called OncoVEX.
“OncoVEX is designed to grow only inside cancer cells and not healthy tissue,” explains Sutton. “When it’s injected into the tumor, OncoVEX draws immune cells into the tumor where it programs them to go out into the body and attack other cancer cells.”
Trial results will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval of OncoVEX as a new treatment option.
25. Interventional Radiology Procedures – Carilion Clinic has introduced new techniques for interventional radiology-related treatment. These include bronchial artery embolization for hemoptysis, fibroid embolization, intracranial vascular procedures, percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography, percutaneous nephrostomy drainage catheter placement, placement of internal nephroureteral stent catheters, pulmonary angiography, radiofrequency tumor ablation, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent and tumor chemoembolizations.