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General Thoracic Surgery
What's New

ECMO Lung Support Improves Patient's Health, Making Way for Lung Transplant

Matthew Bacchetta, MD
Matthew Bacchetta, MD

The December 14, 2009, USA Today ran an article about Liesbeth Stoeffler, a cystic fibrosis patient who received lifesaving lung support with a device called ECMO (short for extracorporeal membrane osxygenation). According to the USA Today article, ECMO enabled Ms. Stoeffler's doctors Matthew Bacchetta, MD, and David Lederer, MD, to remove her from the ventilator, thereby improving her health so that she could maintain eligibility for lung transplant, which she received at NYP/Columbia on July 20, 2009. The ECMO gave Ms. Stoeffler's lungs relief from the ventilator, improving her oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, ultimately bridging her to transplant. According to the article, Ms. Stoeffler's doctors pared down her ECMO equipment and she was able to take liquids and food, which helped her gain weight and strength. She could eventually sit up, talk and even use her laptop and iPhone. "About five days into it, she told me it was the best she'd felt in years," Dr. Bacchetta said.

Ventilators may cause damage to the lungs because they push air into the lungs. ECMO, short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, directly oxygenates the blood, and does not cause lung damage. Patients may move around, eat, and even undergo pulmonary rehabilitation while on ECMO. Doctors at Columbia have been using ECMO technology as both a bridge to transplant and a bridge to recovery, using it to treat patients with H1N1, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and pneumonia.

Dr. Bacchetta leads first Reported NYC Area PTE Procedure

After visiting the emergency room with fainting spells and shortness of breath, a 17-year-old Morningside Heights boy was diagnosed with rare, life-threatening blood clots blocking his pulmonary arteries. Matthew Bacchetta, MD, led a complex, eight-hour open procedure to remove the clots, in which surgeons stopped the patient's heart, hooked him up to a heart-lung bypass pump, and cooled him to 18 degrees Celsius, or 64 degrees Fahrenheit, in order to reduce his body's need for oxygen. They then opened his pulmonary artery, shut off the bypass pump in order to eliminate blood flow, and removed several large branching clots. The process was repeated for each artery. Dr. Bacchetta learned the technique of PTE surgery at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), where it was developed.

Columbia Offers Innovative Surgery for Chronic Pulmonary Emboli

A new Columbia program led by Matthew Bacchetta, MD, is offering patients an innovative procedure known as pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) to clear the pulmonary arteries of chronic blockages. Columbia is the only center in the eastern U.S. currently offering the procedure. Ongoing blockage of the pulmonary arteries occurs when thrombus, or blood clots, build up in these vessels, inhibiting or blocking the path of blood flow through the lungs. The blockage may result in high pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), a condition known as chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). Depending on the size and location of the clots, CTEPH can dangerously reduce oxygenation of blood and weaken the heart.

Read more about pulmonary emboli and their treatment.

Care Options Expand in Combined Pulmonary Care Facility

Geometrical model of the chest wall. With the establishing of the Cecily and Robert Harris Pulmonary Diagnostic Center in 2007 and additional support from the Harris family during 2008, pulmonary specialties at NYP/Columbia consolidated evaluation, diagnostic, rehabilitation, and clinical consultation services into one suite and added sophisticated equipment and research capabilities. The latest addition to this full-service pulmonary facility is an opto-electronic plethysmography (OEP) system.

Lung Cancer Screening

Navigating confusion and controversy about CT screening for lung cancer

Lung Cancer Screening Detecting a disease in its early stages usually leads to a better chance of successfully treating it. So should we all go out and have ourselves screened for lung cancer just to be on the safe side? While there are strong advocates of computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer, the American Cancer Society does not recommend screening as a routine test. Charles A. Powell, MD, Medical Director, Lung Assessment Program and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine weighs in on the question, which turns out to be more complex than one might expect. The Columbia High-Risk Lung Assessment Program uses an algorithm-driven approach to provide comprehensive, thorough care to patients with known risk factors for lung cancer.

Emphysema Research

Columbia's Center for Chest Disease tests new devices to treat advanced emphysema.

Deployment of the one-way Emphasys Endobronchial Valve™ in a blocked airway. Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS) is the gold standard in treating advanced emphysema, and in addition to oxygen therapy, the only treatment shown to prolong survival. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center has been a leader in LVRS since 1994, with success rates of over 90%. In most cases, surgeons at the center perform LVRS using video-assisted thoracoscopic techniques through minimally invasive incisions. The procedure is very safe and effective, with no procedure-related deaths occurring at the center in over twelve years. To expand treatment options for more patients, the Center for Chest Disease is currently investigating two devices that could achieve LVRS-like results without surgery.

Columbia/NYP Lung Cancer Trial Targets Asbestos-Related Disease

NEW YORK (Jun 26, 2008) The Mesothelioma Center within the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center is now recruiting patients for a clinical research study of a new targeted radiation and chemotherapy protocol for pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung's lining that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos. Co-investigators include Drs. Joshua Sonett, Mark Ginsberg, and Lyall Gorenstein.

Read the NYP press release. The release was picked up by Health Day News, in addition to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Austin-American Statesman, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes.Com, Health Central.Com, and Washington Post.com.

Dr. Ginsburg, LVRS, and Lung Disease Programs Featured in New York Times

Mark Ginsburg, MD

The NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia lung disease programs were prominently featured in a three-page spread in the November 28, 2007 New York Times about lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Section of General Thoracic Surgery's lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) program took center stage in an article on surgical treatments for COPD. The article included photographs of a recent lung volume reduction surgery performed by Mark Ginsburg, MD and an NYPH/Columbia surgical team. Patricia A. Jellen, a nurse at the Center for Chest Disease at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, was also interviewed andphotographed.

In a separate article, on women and lung disease, Dr. Byron Thomashow, director of the Chest Disease Center, was quoted about how COPD, while often-overlooked, can be properly managed through the appropriate use of medications and exercise. He was featured in an accompanying article offering advice on symptoms of COPD, and also answered reader questions on NYTimes.com.

High-Risk Lung Assessment Program

The lesion in this scan is small,regularly shaped, smooth and rounded,indicating it is likely benign. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, emphysema, or another serious lung disease. A new program at Columbia University Medical Center aims to turn the tide on both genetic and acquired lung diseases by helping people who are at high risk to get the care they need in the earliest stages of disease progression. New this year, the High-Risk Lung Assessment Program is directed by Joshua Sonett, MD, Chief, General Thoracic Surgery, and Charles A. Powell, MD, Director of Thoracic Oncology Research, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Lung Cancer: Do Early Screening, Treatment Yield Better Outcomes?

Alandmark study in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that early detection of lung cancer can favorably change outcomes (2006;355:1763-1771). The study, a multinational collaboration published under the auspices of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP), was initiated by Weill Cornell investigators at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital under the direction of Claudia I. Henschke, MD, PhD, principal investigator. Dr. Henschke also chaired the Writing Committee of I-ELCAP; the other members were David Yankelevitz, MD, Daniel Libby, MD, Mark Pasmantier, MD, James Smith, MD, and Olli Miettinen, MD, PhD. From the initiation of I-ELCAP, Columbia investigators led by John Austin, MD, have been key collaborators.

Dr. Sonett Receives Humanitarian Award

Joshua R. Sonett, MD
Dr. Joshua R. Sonett

Chesed of New Square in Spring Valley, New York has presented Joshua R. Sonett, MD, with its 2007 Chesed Humanitarian Award for excellent medical/surgical care in the Rockland community. Chesed of New Square is a community service organization dedicated to facilitating access to medical care for members of the Rockland community.

Mastery of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Kaiser, Kron, and Spray, Eds.)

You the Smart Patient

The Second Edition of this standard-setting text/atlas from the acclaimed Mastery of Surgery series was published in October, 2006. Mark E. Ginsburg, MD, is the author of the book's chapter on surgery for emphysema

Dr. Sonett featured in The New York Times

Dr. Joshua R. Sonett, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director, Lung Transplant Program, was featured in a February 16, 2005 New York Times article, "Linked Forever by the Ultimate Gift: One Woman's Death Provides Life for Another," by Marc Santora. The article delved into the path of a lung transplant, from the family's decision to donate to the transplant operation and the recipient's recovery.

The Power of a Handshake: Ramona Gomez Gains Choices with ETS

Until recently, Ramona Gomez, a 39-year-old insurance consultant from Rockaway, New Jersey, had to offer her clients hugs instead of handshakes because of her pronounced fear of one thing—her sweaty palms. "I could literally hold my hand parallel to the ground and you could see the sweat drip off of it," explains Mrs. Gomez.

In her early 20s, Mrs. Gomez found some initial answers. She learned that she had a medical condition known as hyperhidrosis, which literally means excessive sweating.

Never Let Them See You Sweat

A 31-year-old attorney from West Orange, New Jersey, who asked that his name not be mentioned in this article, thought he had an anxiety problem when he would sweat excessively in the courtroom. "I thought it was just me, that it was a simple case of suffering from lack of self-confidence or nerves," he says. But there was one problem with that assumption—he was not feeling nervous; he was feeling perfectly confident. So, why was sweat trickling down his forehead every time he had an audience? The attorney began a personal journey to get to the bottom of a case that had remained a mystery for years.

Getting a Grip on Palmar Hyperhisdrosis

Most people haven't heard of hyperhidrosis and, once they do, they'd probably never guess what the word means: excessive sweating. About 1% of adults suffer from hyperhidrosis, even though many of them don't even realize it. However, there is one dead give-away—sweat, and lots of it.

A 27-year-old graphic designer knows the symptoms of hyperhidrosis all too well. For all of her life she has suffered from palmar hyperhidrosis, or sweaty palms. "As far back as I can remember, I've always had sweaty hands," she says. "They were always wet and cold, and just left me feeling uncomfortable. They would sweat from morning to tonight, for no reason at all; nothing would trigger it, not even temperature. Even in the freezing cold of winter, they were sweaty."

Landmark Study Defines Role of Lung Surgery for Severe Emphysema

Results of the largest study of bilateral lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) to treat severe emphysema indicate that, on average, patients who undergo LVRS with medical therapy are more likely to function better after two years compared to those who receive medical therapy only.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia was the only New York facility to participate in this national study. The site directors were Mark E. Ginsburg, MD and Byron M. Thomashow, MD.

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