Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Classes, Biostats Projects, Research and Dean's Dinner

This week in epi we are covering diagnostic tests and what they mean. For example, if you go get screened for lung cancer, how do you know whether the screening is actually worthwhile in the sense that it is extending your life? It turns out that it probably isn't, in that case at least. Because of biases due to the length of time the tumor is known about or the greater likelihood of slow-growing tumors to be detected by screening, it often looks like screening is working even when it isn't. Finding the lung tumors earlier doesn't lead to decreased mortality in the studies that have been done so far. Apparently even small tumors can metastasize before symptoms develop.

I spent Tuesday afternoon in the OR helping with another surgery patient who was an interventional case. It went very smoothly. We have figured out how to more or less run the procedure like clockwork now. This patient was having a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG, pronounced "cabbage"), and I watched the surgeon remove some blood vessels from the patient's arms. That kind of surprised me, because I had thought they only used leg vessels for CABGs. Maybe there weren't any good vessels left in the patient's legs. I've already seen several patients this summer who are having a third or even fourth CABG, so that wouldn't surprise me.

This morning we had biostats again, and it was all right. We're covering regression, which is kind of anticlimactic considering that my partner and I were already doing that two weeks ago for our group project. Speaking of which, we presented our third group project this afternoon, and my partner and I didn't have much of anything to present. We basically already did everything we could do for the second project. On the bright side, it make the discussion much shorter, but I don't feel like I learned as much this time.

We had a Dean's Dinner this evening at the Foundation House, and the speaker was a molecular pathologist from the Clinic. We already knew him from our genetics seminars last year. This was a really good talk that was almost like hearing a medical mystery. The speaker had a young patient with a certain set of problems that no one could figure out the cause of, and it turned out that she had a brand new lysosomal storage disorder that had never been described before. Luckily for her, this particular deficiency doesn't affect the brain like most of them do, so she isn't retarded.

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