Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Is Picosecond LASER And What Is Its Latest Role In The World Of Medicine?

A brief overview of Picosecond Laser:

Pico- (p) is a prefix used in metric system of measurement to denote the size which is one-trillionth of a meter. This size is a thousand times smaller than nano- which is a billionth of a meter.

PS: If you are interested in learning about the advances in Nanotechnology and its applications in the World of Medicine, please refer to my earlier Nanotechnology post.

Picosecond (ps) LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) refers to a Laser that emits optical pulses with duration between 1 ps and (usually) some tens of ps.

To learn more about Picosecond Laser please click on the link below:

Latest role of Picosecond Laser technique in the World of  Medicine has been in the production of  synthetic scaffolds in the field of Regenerative Medicine which is a rapidly growing field which is already rapidly changing the medical world.

Please see my earlier post on 3-D organ printing where you can see Dr. Anthony Atala, a urologist, who is the head of Department of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, U.S.A. printing out a 3-D kidney using biomimetic synthetic scaffold and cultured human kidney cells using a 3-D organ printer.

The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT; Aachen, Germany) and other Fraunhofer Institutes developed a picosecond laser technique process for producing these biomimetic scaffolds utilizing Picosecond Laser. These scaffolds closely resemble endogenous tissue and assist in the study of 3-D cell growth. They combine organic substances with polymers and produce 3-D structures suitable for building artificial tissue.

For more details, please click on the following link to read the article posted by Lee Mather on 09/02/2011:

Thank you for updating your medical knowledge at http://www.onlinehealthexpert.blogspot.com


Harish Malik, M.D.

Women Infected With Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) May Have Increased (2-3 times) Heart Attack, Stroke Risk.

According to a report published in the Journal of the American College of cardiology "Women infected with human papillomavirus or HPV, are two to three times as likely as uninfected women to have had a heart attack or stroke".

Wall Street journal "Health Blog" reported that HPV suppresses the action of retinoblastoma protein, a tumor suppressor protein that has been linked to the development of atherosclerosis (deposition of fibro-fatty plaques) that leads to increased risk of heart attack and strokes.

Further study is needed to see if similar association or a cause and effect relationship can be shown between HPV and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in both sexes. It also reemphasizes the potential roles that other infectious agents in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

This might, in the future, lead to vaccination and anti-microbial therapy becoming a part of prevention and routine management of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular or peripheral arterial disease patients.

Thank you for reading,


Harish Malik, M.D.

Increased Morbidity And Mortality On Weekends And In July In U.S. Hospitals.

Lots of data is accumulating that shows avoidable deaths, injuries and medication errors occur at teaching hospitals in U.S. in the month of July every year when fresh and inexperienced PGY-1 Resident doctors start their residencies and are eager to use their medical knowledge and skills on their first patients. This is now commonly known as the "July effect"!

David P. Phillips, Ph.D., and Gwendolyn E. C. Barker, B.A. published a study (2010) in the Journal Of General Internal Medicine.
They found “the greater the concentration of teaching hospitals in a region, the greater the July Effect for the intra-institutional medication errors in that region”.
Three key themes reportedly emerged during the study:
1)      Fatal medication errors spiked in July and no other month.
2)      July spike appeared only in counties containing teaching hospitals, and
3)      July mortality from medication errors was 10% above the expected level in these counties.

Another interesting finding shows (so called "Weekend effect") that there is increased mortality in patients who go or are taken to the ER during the weekends when the Attending and the senior faculty is sometimes not available and the burden of care falls on the less experienced Resident doctors and Hospitalists who find it more difficult to reach the patients’ primary care doctors on weekends versus weekdays and have to unravel the medical mysteries from the scratch which is unfair and frustrating for the patients. This leads to the loss of valuable time, in re-diagnosing the patients, which could have been utilized to treat and save their lives. Hospital staffing levels tend to be lower on the weekends than on weekdays. Because of this, weekend ER patients may be less likely to receive invasive procedures and more likely to experience longer in-hospital delays. These invasive procedures have been shown to save more lives when performed early.

Recent studies from Canada, Taiwan, and the United States have reported increased risk of mortality in acute stroke patients arriving to the hospital on the weekend compared to those arriving during the week.

A study published by David J Becker, Ph.D., in the Health Services research in 2007 titled “Do Hospitals Provide Lower Quality Care on Weekends?” concluded:
1)      Patients admitted on the weekend are significantly less likely to receive the primary intensive treatments associated with AMI within the first days of their admission.

2)      Weekend admission with AMI leads to lower subsequent expenditures, but higher 1-year mortality and a higher rate of one major cardiac complication, readmission with CHF.

3)      The effects of weekend admission do vary with patient health status. While weekend admission leads to delays in invasive treatments for all patients, sicker patients (defined by inpatient admission in the prior year) are less likely to experience such delays.

Therefore, weekends and the month of July are not a good time to get hospitalized!

Thank you for reading,


Harish Malik, M.D.