The Benefits of Local Anesthesia: A Changing Trend

Alex Campos

Team angelMD

 

Since the introduction of anesthesiology, the traditional role of the patient has been to be asleep, however patients’ increasing unfamiliarity with current medical procedures and devices has led some to rebel against the surgeon-recommended general anesthesia in favor of local anesthetic use. As David S. Howes, a Chicago emergency physician, stated in regards to patients being awake in the operating room, “It’s not for the faint of heart.” [1]

With the possible difficulties of local anesthesia in mind, benefits have also been found. A study conducted in Saint John, New Brunswick compared the anxiety levels of 200 patients who underwent carpal tunnel release surgery, half with local and half with general anesthesia. [2] The study found that patient anxiety levels dramatically decreased while under local anesthetic, as the patient could openly communicate with the surgeon during the operation. On a 0-10 scale, the average pre-operative levels of anxiety in patients with local anesthetic use was 2.3, lower than the average anxiety level of 3.4 found in patients with general anesthetic use. [2]

Local anesthesia has done much more than reduce a patient’s surgery anxiety there are economic, time saving, and functional benefits as well. Of the 100 patients in the Saint John study who were only given local anesthesia, the average total time spent at a hospital was 2.6 hours, 35 percent less time than the 100 patients who underwent general anesthesia. [2] Additionally, blood work, electrocardiogram, and chest X-ray use was found to be needed for three percent of wide awake patients, versus 48 percent of sedated patients. [2]

It was also found that patients under local anesthesia could go back to their daily routines much quicker than if they had undergone general anesthesia. In March of 2017, a patient named in Esther Voynow underwent a De Quervain’s release for restricted base of thumb tendons, opting for a local anesthetic. Due to the lack of common dizziness and nausea resulting from general anesthesia, Voynow was able to drive herself back home merely 30 minutes after her operation had ended. [1]

These results suggest that local anesthesia may become a more frequently used method of pain medication in the future. The economic, time-saving, and functional benefits of local anesthesia seem perfect to be taken to a national scale. If so, the medical industry would be able to save millions of dollars and thousands of surgical hours, resulting in an abundance of space in hospitals. This change would reduce costs and generate profits for hospitals while producing the optimal level of medical care for patients.

Interested in improving the future of anesthesiology and patient care? Visit angelMD’s online medical investments platform, hit browse startups, and click Anesthesiology in the specialty box to discover the newest innovations coming to the field.

 

[1] “Going Under The Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/25/health/surgery-awake-anesthesia.html

[2] “The patient’s perspective on carpal tunnel surgery related to the type of anesthesia: a prospective cohort study” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574473/

Image credit: http://www.tanner.org/media/Image/Anesthesiology-OR.jpg

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RNA: How Physicians and Researchers are using RNA to Solve Today’s Medical Problems

Brendan Long
Team angelMD

Toted by Steven Dowdy of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine as “the future of medicine,” RNA therapeutics are an emerging class of drugs with immense potential. RNA based drugs have been in development for over 20 years and have recently seen some incredible results that are opening the door for RNA to emerge as a prominent and powerful drug class. How will this affect the cardiology market? Recent clinical results have shown that RNA development is a field to watch closely.

A prominent example comes from Imperial College London, where researchers recently finished the largest trial yet in measuring the safety and effectiveness of RNA interference (RNAi) therapy. RNAi therapy effectively turns off one of the genes associated with elevated cholesterol levels. In the trial, researchers found that one month after receiving a single treatment of inclisiran, participants’ LDL cholesterol levels had reduced by over 50 percent. Six months following this single treatment, participant’s cholesterol levels had reduced 42 percent, while in a matched placebo group, cholesterol levels had increased two percent. In all patients across different dosages and frequencies, cholesterol levels fell for at least eight months and no additional side effects were seen when compared to the placebo group.

RNA is also being increasingly used as a diagnostic tool. A leading example of how RNA can be leveraged as a testing method comes from angelMD’s own Ischemia Care. Ischemia Care has developed a test that isolates RNA from whole blood and examines immune responses with the goal of determining where ischemic strokes develop in a patient’s body. In an estimated one-third of cases, doctors aren’t able to identify a cause for a stroke. Ischemia Care’s “ISCDX” test serves to help determine whether the stroke originated in the heart or in the blood vessels, which has a “huge impact on how patients are treated and on preventing recurrent strokes,” according to CEO Jeff June. On top of pinpointing the location where strokes develop, Ischemia Care also can determine whether or not ischemic strokes that originate in the heart are caused by atrial fibrillation.

RNA is a developing and intriguing topic in healthcare that has shown potential in both testing and treatment, and investors have taken notice. One private company, Moderna Therapeutics, has reportedly raised nearly $2 billion to develop a “platform for inventing new RNA treatments. For a long time, the main obstacle facing RNA therapeutics was cost. Companies like Alnylam dug over a billion dollars into research without releasing a single tangible product.

People like former Alnylam senior executive Rachel Meyers, however, are starting to realize the place for RNA drugs in healthcare. Meyers sees RNA therapeutics as being versatile in its ability to tackle unique problems. About RNA therapies Meyers believes, “It’s those ones that don’t have a good alternative where you say, ‘Oh my gosh, we can really change the world, or someone’s life, with this.’”

In the long-time stagnant field of RNA therapeutics, people are starting to see results. This makes RNA a topic to watch closely.

Sources:
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603871/how-a-boys-lazarus-like-revival-points-to-a-new-generation-of-drugs/
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_17-3-2017-14-40-10

A new blood test could help doctors pinpoint the cause of a stroke

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Digital Health Makes Strides in Diabetes Care

Susana Machado
Team angelMD

Over 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and some 27 percent haven’t been diagnosed. [1] To make matters worse, the rate of new cases has been on the rise in U.S.[2] The CDC estimates the total cost of diabetes in the U.S. in 2012 alone was $425 billion, and the average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes was 2.3 times higher than people without diabetes.[1]

Type 2 diabetes is highly preventable and treatment is straightforward, though it can be difficult for patients to adopt. With the extreme cost of treatment and burden on patient well-being, it is clear that there needs to be a different approach to patient care, something that can lower cost without impacting effectiveness. Enter digital health.

A new literature review, analyzing the success of digital health interventions on diabetes patients, found that the effects of obesity-related apps on patient satisfaction and adherence were positive and cost effective.[3]

angelMD is proud to have companies on our platform like Rimidi tackling this important issue. Rimidi’s cloud-based platform Diabetes+Me has demonstrated an ability to produce results. A study showed that patients who used Rimidi’s intervention dropped their hemoglobin A1c levels by two percentage points more than standard treatments. Their total cholesterol also decreased by 50 mg/dL more than standard treatments.[4] Rimidi’s success has earned them recognition and they recently presented at the 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference.

Continued developments in the digital health sector are increasingly important due to decreased funding to public health initiatives. This funding drought in combination with increasing care costs sets up the digital health industry for significant growth. According to one report, the digital health market will hit $117 billion in 2020.[5] Physicians have widely recognized this area of growth, with 86 percent agreeing that mobile apps would be central to care in 2020.[5]

Interested in learning about more innovative startups tackling diabetes care from a digital health perspective? Browse relevant companies on angelMD here by selecting the “Digital Health” category and typing “Diabetes” in the search box.

[1] According to a 2014 CDC report https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf
[2] According to April 2016 CDC report https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/slides/long_term_trends.pdf
[3] http://perspectives.ahima.org/canmhealthrevolutionize/
[4] http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/mobile-diabetes-intervention-reduced-hba1c-2-percentage-points-more-standard-care
[5] http://actonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2016_State_of_App_Economy.pdf

Featured Image (CC0): https://pixabay.com/en/diabetes-blood-sugar-diabetic-528678/

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