*Health Scan: Upgrading the stethoscope*

Many general practitioners and hospital doctors still wear stethoscopes, but use them only infrequently.

A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A doctor stands with stethoscope in this undated handout photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Many general practitioners and hospital doctors still wear stethoscopes, but use them only infrequently. Invented in 1816, the tube-and-earpiece device served physicians very well in diagnosing problems involving the lungs and heart.
But with ultrasound, x-rays, CTs and MRIs, they have become less necessary. Now, Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s lung institute director Dr Gabriel Izbicki has published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine a suggestion that could restore its practical use. His online article was accompanied by an audio file of lung sounds that can be analyzed digitally so medical conditions are more accurately diagnosed.
“Using a computer program to digitally record the sounds and compare them to a database of normal and diseased lungs makes it possible for us to get a better impression of lung function,” wrote Izbicki. “In fact, no acceptable test today supplies us with such speedy, simple and acceptable information as this test. It is cheap, immediate, does not involve any cooperation from the patient and has no side effects,” he explained.
The journal article will apparently serve as a learning tool for medical students around the globe who don’t have access to modern medicine, and to medical residents studying family medicine. The article aroused much interest in the international medical community, which many asking to use the software program for teaching purposes, the Jerusalem lung specialist said.
According to a new practice at Magen David Adom, paramedics in the field send electrocardiogram printouts of heart patients directly to the cardiac intensive care unit at the hospital before the ambulance even arrives. This procedure saves time and can even save the heart attack victim’s life.
One of the patients whose life was recently saved by this innovation is a 56-year-old man named Avi Simon who had a severe coronary infarction and was rushed to the catheterization lab at Rehovot’s Kaplan medical Center. While treating him in the ambulance, the paramedics sent his ECG, and he underwent angioplasty to remove clogged arteries in his heart immediately.
A “unique” Israeli clinic for children with muscular dystrophy has been opened at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. Headed by Dr. Huda Mutzafi, in cooperation with neuromuscular expert Dr.
Sharon Aharoni, the clinic was initiated by a family support group for spinal muscular atrophy. The interdisciplinary clinic includes pediatric lung experts and pediatric neurologists, orthopedists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, gastroenterologists, nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists and social workers to deal with the special needs of patients.
Muscular dystrophy and related diseases are inherited and appear with various levels of severity. Some victims are unable to walk, while others have difficulty breathing and suffer from repeated respiratory infections. Their life expectancy has grown in recent years due to intensive treatment to prevent complications.
But with longer lives, they develop complications such as thinning bones, heart and orthopedic problems and psychosocial difficulties.
These complications required the establishment of the multidisciplinary clinic at the pediatric hospital, which is owned by Clalit Health Services.
Dr. Rinat Abramovich, a researcher at the Hadassah Institute for Gene Therapy and a senior lecturer at the Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine, has been awarded a prestigious grant of €60,000 by the European Society of Anesthesiology.
Each year, only two projects are selected as recipients of this research grant. Abramovich received this grant for her study showing that patients who lose blood during and after surgery for tumors do better using blood which has just been donated than blood stored in a blood bank. “The liver regenerates better with newer blood. No one knew that before,” she noted.
The research is at an advanced stage and the results presented to the committee are interesting and could affect future practice, for example the treatment of patients who undergo partial removal of the liver.
“In these difficult times when funding for research is hard to get, this grant helps greatly to continue and deepen our study in the next three years. Of course, it is very flattering to get world recognition of the importance of our work by a European organization, in addition to the recognition and support received from the chief scientist of the Health Ministry,” said Abramovich.