NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Study: Benefits of Clot Removal in Acute Stroke Patients Sustained

Study: Benefits of Clot Removal in Acute Stroke Patients Sustained

Dr. Tudor Jovin

A study co-led by neurologists at the UPMC Stroke Institute and Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, a teaching hospital of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, has shown for the first time that the benefits experienced by patients after a clot removal procedure to treat stroke are sustained at 12 months after treatment.

The study, a pre-specified secondary endpoint of a clinical trial called REVASCAT, whose main results were previously published, was conducted by UPMC Stroke Institute physicians Dr. Tudor Jovin, professor of neurology and neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the institute, and Dr. Brian Jankowitz, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine, in collaboration with researchers at four large tertiary referral centers in Catalonia, Spain. The results were published this week in the journal Lancet Neurology.

The REVASCAT trial, along with other similar large trials, tested whether the procedure to remove clots in large brain blood vessels that cause a stroke, also known as thrombectomy, was better than the existing treatments that used clot-busting drugs. The video below describes the procedure in which surgeons insert a device (called a stent) through an artery in the groin and remove the clot from the affected blood vessel in the brain.

The REVASCAT trial showed that thrombectomy resulted in significant improvements in outcomes such as reduced disability at three months after treatment. However, it was not known whether the effectiveness of the treatments would be sustained over a longer period.

“Previous thrombectomy trials demonstrated that guidelines for stroke treatment needed to be reestablished to include endovascular therapy an important therapeutic option,” said Dr. Jovin, the study’s  co-lead author. “Now, our findings from the extended study significantly reinforce this approach and show unequivocally that the benefit to patients is sustained over a longer period of time.” (more…)

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Infographic: Pregnancy Nutrition

Women, particularly minorities, do not meet nutrition guidelines shortly before pregnancy.

Black, Hispanic and less-educated women consume a less nutritious diet than their well-educated, white counterparts in the weeks leading up to their first pregnancy, according to the only large-scale analysis of preconception adherence to national dietary guidelines.

For more on the analysis, click here.

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UPMC Signs Letter of Intent to Affiliate with Harrisburg’s PinnacleHealth

UPMC Signs Letter of Intent for Affiliation with Harrisburg’s PinnacleHealthPinnacleHealth and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) have signed a letter of intent to pursue an affiliation that would position PinnacleHealth to expand healthcare services, advance quality initiatives and continue to provide nationally recognized care in central Pennsylvania. An affiliation would offer a larger scope of healthcare choices for patients and give the hospital system the ability to recruit more top doctors.

PinnacleHealth has been exploring collaborative relationships with compatible organizations that can further its philosophy of delivering the right care per evidence-based standards, in the right place, at the right time and at the right price.

It was also announced today that Memorial Hospital of York in York, Lancaster Regional Medical Center in Lancaster, Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center in Lititz and Carlisle Regional Medical Center in Carlisle will be acquired by PinnacleHealth in a separate transaction, pending approval.

To read more, click here.

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What are the risks associated with indoor tanning?

What are the risks associated with indoor tanning?We asked Dr. Laura Ferris, dermatologist at UPMC, about the risks associated with indoor tanning. She recently published a study on the subject in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

What are some risks associated with indoor tanning, who is at highest risk?

A. The biggest risk of tanning is developing skin cancer – tanning increases the risk of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Other risks include wrinkles, pigment changes and skin discoloration. Skin cancer is most often found in people ages 50 and older, but results from damage done throughout a lifetime. In fact, most skin cancers are thought to be caused by ultraviolet light exposure accumulated since childhood.

Is it safe to occasionally use tanning beds?

A. No. Tanning is a carcinogen so it can never be safe. Tan skin is actually the top portion of a cell defending the nucleus of the cell, where DNA is located. Mutations in DNA from ultraviolet light cause cancer. Tan skin represents the cells’ last defense to place a barrier between ultraviolet light and DNA. Every time someone tans, their DNA is exposed to something that causes cancer.

What did your recent study find?

A. In our recent study, we analyzed the reasons why patients seek skin cancer screenings. More than 40 percent of patients reported indoor tanning use, and when we compared patients who were tanners to those who were not, we found most tanners wouldn’t normally be at risk for skin cancer if they had never used tanning beds. Additionally, our study found about 25 percent of indoor tanners reported tanning bed usage as their reason for screening, indicating they knew their habits were unhealthy. Out of the people we surveyed, patients who tanned indoors were most likely to believe that skin cancer screening has been shown to prevent skin cancer and to reduce the risk of death.

What is the safest way to tan?

A. Spray-on tans and self-tanning creams are the only safe forms of tanning. If you are out in the sun, it’s recommended to use a broad spectrum sun screen with an SPF of 30 or higher. At the beach, the best way to stay protected is to sit under a sun umbrella. Always stay away from tanning oils as they don’t provide adequate protection. Although visiting a dermatologist doesn’t make tanning safer, anyone who has a spot on their skin that they think might be skin cancer should see a board-certified dermatologist. 

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UPMC Movement Disorders Expert Named to Parkinson Foundation Board of Directors

Dr. Mark Richardson, assistant professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of Epilepsy and Movement Disorders Surgery at UPMC, has been named to the board of directors of the Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania.

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to symptoms that include shaking and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination. Richardson is a neurosurgeon-neuroscientist who specializes in the use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and gene therapy for movement dysfunctions commonly seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“Mark [Richardson] is an outstanding clinician researcher, and a nationally recognized leader in the field of movement disorders,” said Dr. Robert Friedlander, Walter E. Dandy Professor and chair of neurological surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine. “He is passionate about improving the lives of patients, and the Parkinson’s community will benefit greatly from his presence on the board of the foundation.”

Richardson started the interventional-MRI DBS program at UPMC, which involves a new method of performing DBS inside an MRI scanner while the patient is under anesthesia. This allows the surgeon to see real-time images of the brain that help guide the placement of the electrodes that are implanted in the area of the brain responsible for abnormal movement.

In February 2016, Richardson and his colleagues began testing the use of gene therapy to relieve the symptoms of tremor and mobility impairment in patients with Parkinson’s disease as part of a clinical trial. The technique shows promise in prolonging the effectiveness of levo-dopa, the mainstay treatment for the progressive neurodegenerative condition, by increasing production of a key enzyme essential to convert the drug into the neurotransmitter dopamine.

More recently, he was awarded a three year $3.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a multi-institutional research study to understand how speech is controlled in the brain. The study was funded as part of the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative launched by former President Barack Obama as a large-scale effort to understand the brain and apply the knowledge to treating a variety brain disorders.

Richardson received his undergraduate education at the University of Virginia. He completed his medical and doctoral education in the MD/PhD program at the Medical College of Virginia. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt in 2011, Richardson completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of California, San Francisco, where he received specialized training in epilepsy neurosurgery, DBS and brain mapping during awake craniotomies, and was awarded a NIH National Research Service Award to study gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

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