It was a long way to travel for a diagnostic test, but at least there was no waiting.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station recently documented the first extraterrestrial ultrasound examination of a shoulder. Results of the exam performed under the microgravity conditions of space flight were published online on Nov. 8 by the journal Radiology.
Members of the Expedition 9 crew submitted the paper from space-another first. The Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity experiment was conducted to determine the accuracy of ultrasound in less-than-normal clinical conditions, to assess ultrasound's feasibility for monitoring musculoskeletal changes of people in space and to determine optimal training methods. The study's lead author, Science Officer E. Michael Fincke, says he believes the results are relevant to more grounded medical care, with the potential to improve life on Earth in the fields of emergency, rural and remote medicine.
Astronauts experience a reduction in bone, muscle and tendon mass during prolonged space flight, increasing their risk of injury. The shoulders are particularly vulnerable to injury during strenuous spacewalks because of the limited upper body and arm mobility in spacesuits.
For this part of the experiment, the team evaluated the ability of a nonphysician crew member to obtain quality shoulder data from another crew member using remote guidance. The two astronauts prepared with 21/2 hours of ultrasound training four months before launch and a one-hour training session on the space station. The diagnostic image, which was completed in less than 15 minutes under the verbal guidance of experienced sonologists on Earth and then transmitted to experts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, was pronounced excellent. Even better, no evidence of shoulder injury was found.
The findings indicated that such training could be a good way of performing diagnostic ultrasound exams in space and may be useful on Earth when access to trained physicians and proper medical equipment is limited, according to the astronaut authors.
The article and video images of the ultrasound examination are available online at http: radiology.rsnajnls.org.
Tommy Thompson is telling HHS nicotine addicts to quit or find another place to ingest the drug.
Starting in January 2005, as part of Secretary Tommy Thompson's antismoking initiative, HHS employees will not be allowed to smoke, chew or sniff tobacco on any of the agency's campuses, expanding a policy in place already banning smoking inside or immediately outside some HHS facilities. All HHS campuses including sites for the CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health are affected. Outdoor areas that had been designated for smoking will become smoke-free.
Anyone who has ever tried to quit has firsthand knowledge of the urges, shakes and general crankiness that can accompany withdrawal, so to help its employees survive their smoke-free work days with some semblance of sanity, HHS is offering counseling and nicotine gums and patches to employees whose insurance does not cover such products.
HHS also launched a Web site, smokefree.gov, which offers advice on quitting, along with information on why you should quit, such as the fact that you inhale more than 4,000 chemicals, including the kind found in wood varnish and rat poison.
"Smoking being the No. 1 preventable cause of death, the secretary thinks we should do what we can for our employees. People look to the HHS to set an example on this," says HHS spokesman Bill Pierce.
The Washington Post reported that some employees might be exempt from the ban because of union contracts that guarantee smoking breaks to some. Also, there is a question whether the policy would be allowed on property that is leased or on the land of sovereign Native American nations, the Post reported. Pierce had no comment on either issue, however.
A tale of two Phelpses
As the co-inventor of positron emission tomography, Michael Phelps is renowned, albeit in fairly refined circles. So when he heard his name in an introduction at a recent meeting held by PET scanner manufacturer CTI he climbed up on the stage without suspecting that perhaps the organizers had someone else in mind.
As Phelps, chairman of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA Medical School, started to give his talk, he was interrupted and told "that I was the wrong Michael Phelps. Then in walked the real Michael Phelps," he says.
That, of course, is the 19-year-old Olympic swimming cham- pion, a star of the Athens Games. Professor Phelps says he was delighted to meet his namesake.
"I found Michael to be warm, modest, fun and charming," he says.
The professor told the swimmer that during a recent visit to his hometown of Baltimore, a hotel maid called his room and asked, "Are you Michael Phelps the swimmer?" Phelps asked, "Would that be important to you?" She replied that "It would be the greatest thing in my life."
"I said, `Well, then I am,' " Phelps says. "I said to Michael, `If some day someone says to you, `Are you the Michael Phelps that invented the PET scanner?' you should respond, `Would that be important to you?' "