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Mandated decrease in work hours may not be advantageous for neurosurgical residents

In an effort to decrease the amount of medical errors due to fatigue, in 2003 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) imposed a mandatory maximum 80-hour work-week restriction on medical residents.

Before this mandate, residents often worked more than 100 hours per week and some neurosurgery residents in particular worked in excess of 120 hours per week. A University of Minnesota study recently  published in the Journal of Neurosurgery now finds the mandate could be leaving neurosurgery residents underprepared.

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U of M study: Reduction in neurosurgical resident hours appears to have no significant positive effect on patient outcomes

A reduction in neurosurgeon resident duty hours appears to result in no significant changes in patient outcomes, according to new research from the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota. The reduction in resident duty hours was mandated in 2003 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) when it imposed a mandatory maximum 80-hour work-week restriction on medical residents. Prior to this mandate, residents often worked in excess of 100 hours per week.

Findings were published today in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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U of M expert: Know the signs and symptoms of stroke, what to do

When precious seconds count, do you know the signs and symptoms of stroke? Moreover, do you know what to do to get the stroke sufferer the medical care they need?

The American Stroke Association has an easy-to-remember acronym, F.A.S.T., which stands for:

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A Retrospective: 75 Years of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota

Since 1937, neurosurgery has been an integral part of the University of Minnesota. In that year, William Peyton, M.D., was appointed head of the division, launching a line of effective and accomplished leaders that would carry the division forward.

Over the span of 75 years, the Department of Neurosurgery was established within the Medical School and continued to make a name for itself as an incubator for innovation and the most advanced patient care options available.

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Trigeminal neuralgia surgery gives patients their lives back

Try to imagine a pain so excruciating that some patients have even told physicians they’d contemplated ending their life to alleviate the suffering. Sadly, this is the type of pain characteristic of trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Known as the suicide disease, TN is a painful disorder that affects the trigeminal nerve, the nerve primarily responsible for sensations felt in the face.

Patients battling TN experience occasional, sporadic or constant pain in the face that makes everyday tasks like talking, smiling, shaving, eating, and brushing your teeth unbearable. In some cases, even a light breeze against the face can result in terrible pain.

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Renowned brain tumor pioneer John Ohlfest, Ph.D., dies after his own battle with cancer

It’s a sad time for the University of Minnesota community this week. John Ohlfest, Ph.D., a researcher with the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, and first recipient of the Hedberg Family/Children’s Cancer Research Fund Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research, passed away on Monday, January 21, 2013, after a battle with malignant melanoma.  He was 35 years old.   He is survived by his wife, Karen, and their two children.

Ohlfest, the director of the Neurosurgery Gene Therapy Program, and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, was a recognized pioneer in the treatment of brain tumors using both gene therapy and novel immunotherapies in an attempt to boost a patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer.

In recent years, his work on brain tumors in dogs also gained national prominence.  Ohlfest relied on dogs as a model to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments prior to their implementation in humans.  This model not only served to be more relevant than testing in mice but also gave many family pets a chance for cure.   Most importantly, this work gave real hope to patients with brain tumors refractory to conventional therapies.

Ohlfest explored multiple strategies to tackle brain tumors.  While his work focused on the development of customized vaccines that would stimulate a patient’s own immune cells to destroy the tumor stem cells (the ‘parent’ cells responsible for tumor growth), he also looked at ways to alter the environment of the brain tumor cells, making it less resistant to therapy.  He also was instrumental in the development of new devices to better deliver chemotherapy to the tumor itself.

Since his original research, Ohlfest had also started working toward a “vaccine” for three other types of recurrent brain tumors: glioblastoma, medulloblastoma and ependymoma.

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