A Fishy Tale of Lumps and Bumps

boa constrictorWhen you think about potentially dangerous pets,  which animals spring to mind? Alligators? Boa Constrictors? Any of the “big cats”? Pit Bulls? Goldfish?

Goldfish? Really?!?  Well, according to a new study from Henry Ford hospital, fish may not be quite as benign as they seem. To be fair, it’s not the fish killer goldfishthemselves, but the water they swim in that may be harmful to health.

Researchers have shown that contaminated water in home aquariums can lead to a skin infection known as Mycobacterium marinum. The condition is characterized by reddish skin lesions or bumps on the hands or arms.

It’s difficult to diagnose and treat because skin lesions don’t appear for two to four weeks after contact with the bacteria, leading to delayed treatment and unnecessary and ineffective use of antifungal and antibacterial agents.

Complicating matters further is that patients fail to remember or mention the source of the exposure, which is often traced to them cleaning their aquarium. Infection results when bacteria in the non-chlorinated water attacks an open skin wound on the arm or hand.

mycobacterium marinumPeople just don’t know or think about their fish tank harboring this bacterial organism,” says George Alangaden, M.D., a Henry Ford Infectious Diseases physician and the study’s lead author.

And unless they’re directly questioned about it by their physician, who may or may not have adequate knowledge of Mycobacterium marinum and its prolonged incubation period, appropriate treatment often gets delayed.”

During the study, conducted between January 2003 and March 2013, researchers identified five patients ages 43 to 72 treated at Henry Ford for Mycobacterium marinum. Skin biopsies performed on all five patients confirmed the infection.

The incubation period before skin lesions appeared ranged from 11 to 56 days. While all five patients responded effectively to antibiotic treatment, it took on average a staggering 161 days from the time of initial presentation to time of treatment.

“Mycobacterium marinum is not a life-threatening illness, but it remains an unrecognized cause of skin infection,” says Dr. Alangaden. “To accelerate diagnosis and treatment, physicians are encouraged to ask detailed questions about the patient’s history, especially questions about potential exposure to aquariums.”

cleaning aquarium Or better still, may we suggest you wear gloves when cleaning out the tank!

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Bye-Bye Backside

Hospital-Gown-300x300Anyone who’s ever been a hospital patient knows that hospital gowns come in three sizes: short, shorter….and don’t bend over! They probably also know that hospital gowns are like health insurance – you can never have enough coverage!

But now the days of the drafty backside may be coming to a close, and hospital gowns may no longer be the perennial the butt of jokes.

A new patient gown that resembles a wrap-around robe that completely closes in the back and front, is being rolled out on several inpatient floors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. It is among the first inventions to be made public by the Henry Ford Innovation Institute in collaboration with the College for Creative Studies.

The traditional back slit hospital gown has been completely designed and in its place is a stylish gown that blends style for the patient with clinical function for the health care team.

hospital gown 1Features of the he newly designed gown include:

  • Completely closed in the back, creating more privacy for patients
  • Made of a thicker, cotton/polyester blend material, which keeps patients warmer
  • Double-breasted in the front, using three snaps, instead of ties, to close the gown
  • Intuitive in design, with different colored snaps and stitching along the left and right sides of the gown, making it easy for patients to put on
  • Accessible for IVs and other medical lines.

hospital gown 4Since its introduction, health care teams at Henry Ford say the gown offers them uncompromised clinical access to the patient without the need to undress the patient.

Our No. 1 goal was to close the backside of the gown with our design,” says Michael Forbes, a product designer at the Henry Ford Innovation Institute and graduate of the College for Creative Studies . “A simple change can have a large impact on the patients’ stay at a hospital. By creating a hospital gown that is safe, stylish and comfortable, we’ve made the patient feel more at home, like they’re wearing their own garments.”

The gown, which began with a drawing two years ago has been tested by patients like Ismail Khalil, M.D., a vascular surgeon from Lebanon who traveled to Henry Ford hospital gown 6Hospital for a liver transplant.  Dr. Khalil has the unique perspective as both a physician and now a patient on the design of the new hospital gown versus the traditional hospital gown.

The new gown is the ultimate in simplicity and sophistication,” he says. “The old gown was uncomfortable with the ties in the back; I did not like it. I’d much rather walk down the hall in the new gown; it fits well and you feel decent. It looks good too. What more could you want?

hospital gown empathyThe new gown can also be size adjusted using snaps on either side of the gown, allowing for it to fit more patients with a single design.  Currently it comes in navy and light blue, to coincide with the Henry Ford Hospital colors but could easily be modified for other hospitals.

The cost to manufacture and purchase the new gown is very comparable to existing gowns, and laundering is exactly the same too. The goal, says Forbes, is to license the design to an existing gown manufacturer, which would then produce and sell the gown nationally.

A move which can’t come soon enough for  those looking for a little less Southern exposure!

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Don’t Ignore the Snore

snoringThink for a moment about the factors that influence health.  Chances are you thought about: smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insufficient exercise. Maybe you added in family history of disease, and stress. How about snoring?

What!?!  Well, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, snoring may put your health at a greater risk than any of the above.

Their study revealed that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected.  The trauma and subsequent inflammation caused by the vibrations of snoring can lead to changes in the carotid arteries – the pair of blood vessels that deliver blood to your brain and head. Snoring can cause a build-up of plaque which can eventually block the blood supply to the brain and increases the risk of stroke.

Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” says lead author Robert Deeb, M.D., with the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford.

Obstructive sleep apnea– a sleep disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic pauses in breathing – has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, along with a host of other serious health issues.

But the risk for cardiovascular disease may actually begin with snoring, long before it develops into obstructive sleep apnea.

carotid arteryInvestigators reviewed data for 913 patients aged 18-50, who had participated in a diagnostic sleep study, none of whom had sleep apnea.  54 patients completed a survey regarding their snoring habits, and underwent a carotid artery ultrasound to measure the thickness of the innermost two layers of the carotid arteries. This test is able to pick up the first signs of carotid artery disease.

What they found was that snorers were had significantly greater thickening of the carotid arteries, compared to non-snorers.  Interestingly, no statistically significant differences in carotid artery thickening could be found for patients with or without some of the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease – smoking, diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia.

Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out-of-pocket expenses by patients. We’re hoping to change that thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise.”

The Henry Ford research team plans to conduct another long-term study on this topic, particularly to determine if there’s an increased incidence of cardiovascular events snoring2in patients who snore.

In the meantime, instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of bed, seek out medical treatment for him…or her.

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