Monday, August 25, 2014

Shameless Self-Promotion

Many patients, colleagues, friends and family have all asked me: "Who's the most qualified to perform Ob-Gyn ultrasounds?" So here is my unvarnished and completely biased opinion.

An ultrasound study can be performed by either a sonographer or a sonologist (a doctor who performs or supervises ultrasounds.) However, a doctor will have a more extensive background in both health and disease processes than someone who is not a physician as a general rule. A physician will have spent far more time on the clinical side of the equation so will be more able to formulate a better differential diagnosis.

Now while a radiologist and gynecologist can both perform a decent pelvic ultrasound study, a gynecologist is generally far more familiar with female pelvic physiology and pathophysiology than a general radiologist. When it comes to a vaginal ultrasound, this shouldn't even be a question. An old friend once remarked that if radiologists performed vaginal sonography, the transducer handle would be long enough to reach into the reading room. Instead, most if not all radiologists read the studies performed by sonographers. A gynecologist performs a vaginal sonogram in much the same way an old-fashioned pelvic exam is performed, even down to occasionally using the abdominal hand.

Also, when a sonographer performs a sonogram in the standard radiology practice, the patient usually has to leave without knowing the result. When a gynecologist performs the exam, the result, at least preliminarily, is available right away. This eliminates a great deal of anziety.

OK, so now we've agreed your pelvic sonogram is best performed by an Ob-Gyn, why should it be performed by THIS "Recovering Obstetrician?" The short answer is Experience. I have been performing Ob-Gyn sonography since the late 1970's and exclusively since 1986. Since that time, when I decided to limit my practice to consultative ultrasound, I have had a chance to learn what works, what doesn't work, and have climbed to the summit of a rather steep learning curve. I've also learned a great deal about how to deal with both anxious patients and concerned referring clinicians. Do keep all this in mind if and when you need an ultrasound.

Thanks for reading. This concludes my infomercial.

For more information or to schedule an ultrasound, please call 718-925-6277.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vitamin D: Shedding Some Light on Infertility

I've posted on the present epidemic of low vitamin D previously. Now we find yet another association of low levels of Vitamin D - Infetility.

Publishing in the European Journal of Endocrinology, researchers Elizabeth Lerchbaum and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch performed a systematic review of studies published until October of 2011. A short summary of their results from PubMed:

The vitamin D receptor (VDR) and vitamin D metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. Vdr knockout mice have significant gonadal insufficiency, decreased sperm count and motility, and histological abnormalities of testis, ovary and uterus. Moreover, we present evidence that vitamin D is involved in female reproduction including IVF outcome (clinical pregnancy rates) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In PCOS women, low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels are associated with obesity, metabolic, and endocrine disturbances and vitamin D supplementation might improve menstrual frequency and metabolic disturbances in those women. Moreover, vitamin D might influence steroidogenesis of sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) in healthy women and high 25(OH)D levels might be associated with endometriosis. In men, vitamin D is positively associated with semen quality and androgen status. Moreover, vitamin D treatment might increase testosterone levels. Testiculopathic men show low CYP21R expression, low 25(OH)D levels, and osteoporosis despite normal testosterone levels.

While more work needs to be done, the impact of Vitamin D on both the male and female reproductive systems is far-reaching and still poorly understood. Stay tuned.

For more information or to schedule a sonogram, please call 718-925-6722.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Screening Guidelines And Ageism

Most of the controversy surrounding mammography involves when to start screening - 35? 40? 50? However, the US Preventative Services Task Force has also suggested that the evidence for continued screening after age 75 is lacking. Now there may be some evidence for older women.

Malmgren et al from the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle reported on findings to suggest the benefit of continued breast cancer screening in older women.

The researchers recently looked at the impact of mammography detection on older women by studying data from an institutional registry that includes more than 14,000 breast cancer cases with 1,600 patients aged older than 75 years.

The majority of mammography-detected cases were early stage, while physician- and patient-detected cancers were more likely to be advanced stage disease. Patients with mammography-detected invasive breast cancer were more often treated with lumpectomy and radiation and had fewer mastectomies and less chemotherapy than patient- or physician-detected cases.

Mammography detection was associated with a 97% five-year disease-specific invasive cancer survival rate, compared with 87% for patient- or physician-detected invasive cancers.

“Mammography enables detection when breast cancer is at an early stage and is easier to treat with more tolerable options,” said Dr. Malmgren. “In this study, older women with mammography-detected invasive cancer had a 10% reduction in breast cancer disease-specific mortality after 5 years.”

This all has little to do with ultrasound but everything to do with the doctor patient relationship. Ultimately, the decision to screen or not to screen should properly rest with the patient and her doctor, based on medical evidence, not cost. Older folks are people too.

If you've any questions or need to schedule an ultrasound, please call (718) 925-6277.