Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week Five: Research, Research, Research

The main focus of this week was Research. The week started with a research presentation at a morning Spine conference in the Neurosurgery department. Dr. Vamsi Vijay Nagineni presented the clinical findings of Dr. Hartl's surgeries with actifuse. We then discussed the demographic data I had begun to add to the revision case database; however, as of right now, no trends can be readily seen. We then took a look at the XLIF patient data I had collected. Although at first glance, only 8 patients could be included in our study design, Dr. Hartl is optimistic that this may be enough for an abstract and poster presentation at the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (SMISS) conference. The first parameters to be calculated would be VAS leg pain and back pain scores pre-op, post op, and in follow up, which I learned were a staple when evaluating data of this sort. Additionally, I would later have to contact Dr. Gebhard to determine how to measure angle of correction with MRI scans, as another set of data. I set about performing these calculations this week, as well as double checking the database for patients I may have missed. Additionally, I looked into the SMISS conference abstract information, and set about writing the abstract when not analyzing data.

On tuesday afternoon, I attended my first Spine Case Conference. In these conferences, the doctors, residents, and fellows from neurosurgery attend to discuss interesting patient cases and get second opinions about treatment routes. Vendors, social workers, physical therapists, and radiology staff also attend these conferences to lend their expertise to the diagnoses. The case conference really demonstrated the interdisciplinary nature of treatment at NYP, a concept espoused by biomedical engineering at Cornell as well.

Besides research, I also attended the first of a two part tutorial on MRI. The class was organized by Mitch Cooper and Dr. Michelle Ann Cerilles of Dr. Yi Wand's imaging lab. The curriculum is set up into 12 exercises and in this first session, we performed exercises 1 -3. These included learning how perform a phantom scan as a calibration tool for the MRI, learning about MRI safety and how to prepare a patient to receive an MRI, and performing MRI scans of the knee. These lessons can be found at; however, performing them in person was much more valuable then just reading through the exercises. We were also introduced to MRI terminology and were taught how to differentiate between tissues in the MRI scan, at least in the knee. The second lesson, schedule for next week, will include MRI imaging of the brain and abdomen.

Looking ahead, there are only two weeks left and so much more to do. My research project takes up a good deal of my time, but next week will be a busy one. Dr. Frayer has helped to set up shadowing in the ER and a chance to see an open heart surgery. The second MRI class should also be quite interesting. I look forward to the chance to squeeze in as much as I can out of what is left of immersion term, and maybe get an abstract as well.

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