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Health Information What's Up (and Down) in Your Field?

In life we tend to equate up with good and down with something less than positive. However, in medicine this simplistic split does not always hold true. For example, in the field of cancer what's down is downright impressive. In the last two decades, the death rate from cancer in the U.S. dropped dramatically — by about 23 percent in men and 15 percent in women.

Below, two experts at Rush University Medical Center talk about the positive ups and downs in heart care, pediatric surgery and Rush's new hospital, the Tower.

Heart attack survival rates are up

For patients having a heart attack, the amount of time between entering the hospital and having angioplasty (what's called door-to-balloon time) is down and survival rates are up. This is in part due to new strategies that have shortened the time it takes to clear blocked arteries and get blood flowing again. Quickly restoring blood flow prevents the death of heart muscle.

"It used to take two or more hours just to open an artery and place a stent," says Neeraj Jolly, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Rush. "Now, our profession has agreed that it is optimal to provide all necessary care within 90 minutes of a heart attack victim arriving at the hospital."

Kids are up and running more quickly

The last decade has seen a steady rise in the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques for pediatric procedures at Rush. This includes laparoscopy, which utilizes a small camera and scope inserted into the patient through small incisions. These techniques are now considered the standard of care for appendectomy and gallbladder removal for children, says Srikumar Pillai, MD, a pediatric surgeon at Rush.

As the use of these techniques has gone up, rates of postoperative complications have gone down. In fact, the smaller incision of a laparoscopic appendectomy means fewer infections, less postoperative pain and shorter recovery time. "With these techniques, we can get young people back up on their feet much more quickly," Pillai says.

Physical boundaries are down

Jolly and Pillai are among the clinicians settling into Rush's new hospital, the Tower. The Tower houses the innovative interventional platform — a treatment area that brings many medical specialties together to perform diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical procedures in one location.

"With the interventional platform, physical boundaries are down and collaboration is up," Jolly says. "When we are all in the same place, that makes it easier to bring together everyone's expertise and really push the envelope. We believe that such a diverse group working so closely together will increase treatment options for patients across many fields."

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