In the operating room with Dr. Marnes Molina, MD


with Dr. Marnes Molina, Urologist

Spent the day with Dr. Marnes Molina, MD, a urologist here in Mexicali.  I initially met Dr. Molina by happenstance – in the hallways of Mexicali General Hospital.  After a brief chat we arranged for a longer interview and operating room visit.

Today, I spent the entire day in Dr. Molina’s company – first in surgery at one of the private hospitals, then his office on Madero Avenue, and then at another facility for another surgery.

Talking to the fluent English-speaking physician was a delight and a treat.  Since I don’t usually spent much time in urology – I do admit that I spent yesterday as a cram session reading about J stents and the like  so I would even know what questions to ask.  (Urology has come a long way since your basic lithotripsy.)

Dr. Molina performs a wide range of procedures – from treatment of kidney stones and ureteral obstructions, BPH, prostate cancer as well as continence restoring surgeries such as vaginal tape, and treatment of varicocele that may be contributing to infertility issues in men.

Today, for both cases, patients received conscious sedation – and both patients looked comfortable during the procedures.  (This also means that the associated risks of general anesthesia are avoided.) Everything went well – and quickly!

Dr. Marnes Molina (left) and his nurse in the operating room

Dr. Marnes Molina also tells me that he is the only urologist in the Mexicali area utilizing the green laser for treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy as an option instead of traditional surgery.

Dr. Marnes Molina Torres

Urology/ endourology

www.urologiamexicali.com

Madero 1059

Col. Nueva

Mexicali, BC

Email: marnesm@urologiamexicali.com

Tele (686) 553 6989

Expect to hear more about Dr. Molina soon..

References on Lasers in Urology

Lasers in urology (Grasso & Schwartz), 2008 Medscape.com article

Another Medscape article courtesy of Reuters Health on Green Light laser technology entitled, “Latest green-light laser effective for large prostate volumes.”

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Dr. Horacio Ham, and Los Doctores


Just finished interviewing Dr. Horacio Ham, a bariatric surgeon with the DOCS (Diabetes & Obesity Control Surgery) Center here in Mexicali.  Later this evening, we’ll be heading off to surgery, so I can see what he does first-hand.

Tomorrow sounds like a jam-packed day for the young doctor, he’s being interviewed for a University television series on Obesity in addition to his normal activities (surgery, patients) and of course, the radio show.  Turns out his guest doctor tomorrow evening is none other my professor, the ‘good doctor.’

Sounds like a great show – so if you are interested it’s on 104.9 FM (and has internet streaming) at 8 pm tomorrow night..

I’ll report back on the OR in my next post..

The ‘Art of Medicine’ with Dr. Jose Mayagoitia Witron, MD, FACS


I should be finishing my readings in preparation for clinic this afternoon, but after reading most of the day yesterday (it was an international holiday for people living outside the USA), I guess I am entitled to spend some time writing.

Besides, I spent an illuminating morning with Dr. Jose Mayagoitia Witron, MD, FACS over at Mexicali General Hospital.  While he was telling me what he doesn’t do: (no uniport laparoscopic surgery, and not a huge amount of bariatric surgery), what I observed told a very different story.

Dr. Mayagoitia, MD, FACS

I didn’t follow Dr. Mayagoitia to the operating room.  Instead – I accompanied him to a teaching session with his medical students, who presented case studies – and I observed Dr. Mayagoitia instructing his students in the ‘Art of Medicine’.  This skill is fast becoming a lost one in today’s emphasis on the science of diagnostics, and laboratory testing.  But not here, not today – and not with Dr. Mayagoitia.

He believes strongly in the physical examination and all of the wealth of information that it provides.  He also believes it is an underutilized tool to connect doctors with their patients.  As he explains, too often doctors become too busy ordering tests – which separates the doctors from their patients – instead of listening to ‘the person in the bed’.  (My terminology not his).  So during his students case presentations – the emphasis is on the story (the clinical history), the patient’s life (background, social settings, diet, habits) and the clinical physical examination.  Students aren’t allowed to talk about, or ask questions about diagnostic results such as radiographs or serum analysis until the story and the physical findings have been throughly discussed and examined in detail.

Even then – he challenges them – to use more than their eyes – to engage their brains, and their other senses.. “What about the description of this surgical scar?  Does it seem a little large for an appendectomy?” he asks.. “What about it’s location?’ he challenges**..

“What about the differentials?  What other diagnoses should we consider? he asks.  “I know you think the diagnosis is obvious – but give me some alternatives,” he coaxes.  “What else could be going on?  Tell me why you don’t think that it’s X” he asks – making the students review and explore the other possible causes for this patient’s abdominal pain.  “Could it be Z?” he asks.. “Why not?  What else would we see?” he states in reply to a student’s mumbled answer..

Then, only then, do we review the labs, and the films – the more tangible aspects of the practice of medicine.  Those results that students can see easily, (maybe too easily) and tempt them into abandoning the ‘art’ of medicine and patient care.  But he doesn’t allow it – and quickly steers the conversation back to the displayed pathology to this pathophysiology and symptomatology of the patient in question.

As someone who still struggles with the physical skill of percussion – this entry into the art of medicine hits home.  It is an art, and a woefully underappreciated one.

** Please note – these quotes are my best approximation from my translations during the case presentation, and may miss nuances. 

About Dr. Jose Mayagoitia Witron

Dr. Mayagoitia is more than a clinical instructor – he is a respected professor of surgery at the Universidad Autonoma Baja California (UABC) and has been teaching medical students for over 20 years. He also teaches surgical residents and has been doing so for over fifteen years.  He gives lectures daily at the University, in addition to his busy schedule as the Supervising Surgeon for the Intensive Care Unit at Mexicali General, and private surgical practice (with evening clinic hours).

He speaks in clear, unaccented English (my southern accent is thicker than any accent he might possess) which may be as a result of his fellowship training in San Diego.   He completed his general surgery residency right here at Mexicali General after attending UABC).

He remains active in the research community as a supervisor for resident research projects including two ongoing projects worthy of note: a new study looking at the treatment of open abdomens, (from massive trauma, infection, etc.) and a study looking at the early initiation of enteral feedings versus delayed (72 hours or greater) in surgical intensive care patients.

He, along with his wife, Gisela Ponce y Ponce de León, MD, PhD (a family medicine physician and instructor at the UABC nursing school) recently presented a paper on obesity research in Barcelona, Spain.

He does all of this in addition to a steady diet of general surgery (cholecystectomies, appendectomies, bowel surgery (such as resections) and the occasional bariatric surgery.  As one of the lead surgeons at a major trauma hospital** – he also sees a considerable amount of emergency and trauma cases.

He reports that on the last – bariatric surgery, he has mixed feelings.  While it has become a popular staple for the treatment of obesity and obesity-related complications – he questions it’s role in a society that steadfastedly ignores the causes.  “I wonder if we will look back one day and realize that we [surgery] did a real disservice to our patients by doing so much of this.”  So, while he does perform some bariatric procedures, he is very selective in his patients.  “It’s not a quick -fix, and they are going to be dealing with this [changes from bariatric surgery] for the rest of their lives so they [patients] need to understand that it’s a lifelong endeavor.”  When he does perform bariatric procedures, he prefers the gastric sleeve, which he believes is more effective [than lap-band, and smaller procedures] but less devastating in terms of complications and dramatic life alterations.

Dr. Jose Mayagoitia Witron, MD, FACS

General surgeon, Fellow in the American College of Surgeons

Edificio Azahares

Av. Reforma 1061 – 6

Mexicali, B. C.

Tele: 686 552 2400

** He reports that Mexicali General, as a public facility, sees about 80% of all traumas in the area.

Cartagena update: Dr. Cristian Barbosa, cardiac surgeon


with Dr. Pulido (left) and Dr. Barbosa in Cartagena (2010).

I wanted to post an update on a fantastic surgeon (who has since become a good friend).  In fact, Dr. Cristian Barbosa was one of the first surgeons I ever interviewed back in 2010 – and without his encouragement, the first book would have never gotten off the ground.  Maybe not the second book (Bogotá!) either – since once I said the magic words, “Oh – I interviewed Dr. Barbosa in Cartagena last year,” plenty of other surgeons who might not have talked to me – started to take me seriously.

with Dr. Barbosa back in 2010

Ever since then – I try to keep in contact with Dr. Barbosa – he’s a great person and an absolutely phenomenal surgeon, so I email him every so often..

Since my last visit, back in August – Dr. Barbosa has left Hospital Neuvo Bocagrande – and is now operating in Clinica Santa Maria in Sincelejo, Colombia.

Sincelejo is the capital of the state of Sucre, which is part of the Caribbean region of Colombia.  Like most of this part of Colombia – it has a rich history, and was founded back in 1535 in the name of St. Francis de Assis, though it was long inhabited prior to that by native Colombian tribes such as the Zenu.  Unlike nearby Cartagena (125km north), Sincelejo is a more mountainous landscape, and is known for their agriculture, particularly cattle.  (wow – my stomach just rumbled  – must be missing those gourmet Corral burgers, which are my one Colombian indulgence.. Argentina has nothing on Colombian beef.)

Dr. Barbosa is still living in Cartagena and making a three-hour commute to perform life-saving surgery, while he works on creating a new cardiac surgery program back in our favorite seaside city.  (Hopefully, when he does – we’ll be invited back to take a look!)

gate at the entrance to the historic el centro district

sunset in Cartagena, Colombia

The Pros & Cons of Bariatric Surgery


As my loyal readers know, I do my best to try to give fair and balanced depictions of surgical procedures, as well as reviews of medical and surgical news and research.  Over at Medscape.com – there is a new video discussion by Dr. Anne Peters, MD.  Dr. Peters is an endocrinologist and a certified diabetic education.  In this video – she talks about the realities of bariatric surgery, and these are things I think that people need to hear.

For more on Bariatric surgery – see my other posts

One of the points that she makes, is (in my opinion) critical.  While bariatric surgery has been shown to cure diabetes in many individuals – there is no medical/ surgical or other treatment to cure much of the pathology related to the development of obesity in the first place.  Obesity is more than poor dietary and exercise habits – it is a psycho-social and cultural phenomenon as well.

For people who don’t want to go to the Medscape site – I have re-posted a transcript of the video from Medscape.com below.

Bariatric Surgery a ‘Magic Bullet’ for Diabetes?

Anne L. Peters, MD, CDE

Transcript
Hi. I’m Dr. Anne Peters from the University of Southern California. Today I’m going to talk about the role of bariatric surgery in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

There have been a number of recent studies that show just how good bariatric surgery can be for patients with type 2 diabetes.[1,2] In many cases, it seems to cure type 2 diabetes (at least for now), and I think it is an important tool for treating patients with obesity and diabetes.

However, I also have concerns about bariatric surgery, concerns that go back for years as I watched its increased use. When I was a Fellow, I developed a sense of the benefit of extreme caloric restriction for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. I will never forget the first patient I had, an extremely obese man with type 2 diabetes who was on 200 units of insulin per day. His blood sugar levels remained high no matter what we did. He was a significant challenge in terms of management.

One day, he got sick. I don’t remember how or why he got sick, but he ended up in the hospital and I thought that his management would continue to be incredibly difficult. In fact, it was miraculously easy. Within 2 days, he was completely off of insulin and his blood glucose levels remained normal for the entire time he was in the hospital.

This was only a short-lived benefit, however. After he was discharged, he went back to his old habits. He started eating normally, regained the weight, and went back on several hundred units of insulin per day. But it really impressed me how acute severe caloric restriction could, in essence, treat type 2 diabetes.

I have seen many overweight and obese patients with diabetes over the years, and I have seen the frustration as patients go on drugs (such as insulin) that are weight-gain drugs, and they keep gaining more weight. Although I am a big advocate for lifestyle change, many patients can’t do much better. They can’t lose appropriate amounts of weight by their own will or through weight loss programs, or increase their exercise. Therefore, bariatric surgery remains a reasonable option.

For many of my patients who have a body mass index > 35 and type 2 diabetes, I recommend that they at least consider bariatric surgery. Interestingly, very few of my patients actually go for the procedure and I ponder why this is. In part, I think it’s because of the initial evaluation, when you are told what bariatric surgery is like and how much you have to change your habits after the procedure. Before surgery, you are eating however you want to eat and, although you may be trying to diet, there is no enforcement of that diet. After surgery, you have to change how you eat, the portions you eat, and when you eat. I know that people feel fuller, and this is a lot more than just changing one’s anatomy. I think there are significant changes in gut hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. Nonetheless, it is a big change, and many people don’t want to change their habits that much. I know I would be somewhat leery if I were to undergo a surgical procedure that would change my whole way of being. For lots of people, food has many different associations. It’s not just caloric intake; it’s festival, it’s party, it’s joy, it’s sadness. It’s something people like to do, and it hasn’t a lot to do with just maintaining a positive or neutral caloric balance.

I find that people are reluctant to change, and that is understandable. We also don’t know the long-term complications of the procedure. As an endocrinologist, I see 2 things. First, I tend to get sicker patients, so my patients who are on insulin when they undergo bariatric surgery may not get off insulin entirely. They become very disappointed because they think that bariatric surgery will cure them of their diabetes. I also see patients who are too thin, who are nutritionally deficient, who have severe hypoglycemia, or who have significant issues from the surgery itself. In some cases, these patients have needed a takedown of the surgical procedure, restoring them back to their native anatomy.

I think of bariatric surgery as a tool. It is one of many ways to treat our patients with type 2 diabetes. I am a little concerned because we don’t have long-term follow-up data. I think that all bariatric surgery programs, in addition to doing a very thorough preoperative evaluation and counseling, need to do long-term, lifelong follow-up of these patients to see how they do, to see if their obesity returns. In many cases, this does happen. [Patients need to be followed up] to see what happens to their lipids, their blood pressure, and their blood sugar levels over time, and to monitor for other complications.

I think [bariatric surgery] is something that we need to recommend to our patients, and for those in whom it’s appropriate, it is a reasonable step. This has been Dr. Anne Peters for Medscape.

 References
  1. Mingrone G, Panunzi S, De Gaetano A, et al. Bariatric surgery versus conventional medical therapy for type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Schauer PR, Kashyap SR, Wolski K, et al. Bariatric surgery versus intensive medical therapy in obese patients with diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012; Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Life after Bariatric Surgery

There is also an excellent article by two nurse practitioners about the long-term interventions and health monitoring needed for wellness promotion and health maintenance after bariatric surgery.  While this article is written for other health care providers – it gives an excellent look at life after bariatric surgery, as well as an overview of the surgical techniques, pre-operative evaluation and anticipated post-operative outcomes.

Thomas, C. M. & Morritt Taub, L. F. (2011).  Monitoring and preventing the long-term sequelae of bariatric surgery.  J of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 2011, 23 (9).

More criminal malpractice, and patient deaths: in my own backyard…


Phoenix, Arizona –

In a case of criminal malpractice that sickens and horrifies health care personnel like myself – ‘self-proclaimed’ plastic surgeon, Peter Normann was able to delay sentencing after being found guilty earlier this summer in the deaths of three of his patients  – in three separate incidents.

The details of each of the cases are quite frightening, and highlight reasons why trained observers like myself are critical for objective and unbiased evaluations for potential patients.  In one case, another ‘homeopathic’ doctor working with Mr. Normann (not a licensed plastic surgeon) participated in a liposuction case that resulted in the death of a patient.  In two cases – patients died because Mr. Normann failed to intubate the patients correctly (and tore the esophagus of one of the patients.)

In all cases,  there was no intra-operative monitoring during cases – and Mr. Normann’s only assistant was a massage therapist (not an anesthesiologist, not a surgical nurse or trained surgical team.)  Horrifying – completely criminal, and unforgivable and unacceptable.

Additional Links on this case:

Homeopathy in Arizona covered for doctors’ mistakes

‘Homeopathic’ doctor kills patient performing liposuction.

The Times: Surgical Roulette

Another sad story


of a preventable/ unnecessary plastic surgery death in a young woman in Massachusetts.  In this instance – yet again – the ‘surgeon’ performing the breast augmentation wasn’t a surgeon at all – he was a “family practitioner”.

He may be a doctor – but specialty specific training is an absolute must – along with board certification.  Medical doctors (in medicine specialties) as opposed to surgeons spend only a very limited time in the operating room during medical school, primarily as observers.  This is not adequate preparation!

Board certified specialty trained surgeons on the other hand, spend years training in the operating room – performing surgeries under the direct supervision of more experienced surgeons before completing their surgical residencies.

Please do your homework – as we’ve discussed in several previous posts; research your physician and evaluate all health claims.  Your life, health and well-being are a stake.