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Inside Tract - Complex Issues, Graceful Fixes

Inside Tract Spring 2015

Complex Issues, Graceful Fixes

Date: May 18, 2015

Tony Kalloo
Tony Kalloo

There’s an old joke where a patient visits his doctor.

“Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”

The doctor replies, “Then don’t do that.”

Obviously, the doctor’s response is far too simple to be helpful. But the joke reminds me that some of the most vexing problems we’ve faced in medicine have solutions that began as simple fixes. The science behind them is complex, but the fixes themselves are graceful in their lucidity.

Florin Selaru, for example, collaborated with our university’s engineering school on a new way to biopsy hollow organs. The technology is astonishing in its elegance: Tiny metallic machines collect tissue samples, then are retrieved via magnet. The result is a more comprehensive biopsy.

When Johns Hopkins first used supercooled gases to kill precancerous esophageal cells, we knew it was less expensive and better tolerated than radiofrequency ablation. Today we know that it’s also more successful. Using an endoscopic balloon element, Mimi Canto is making cryotherapy even more effective.

Several years ago, Jay Pasricha envisioned a procedure that would offer permanent relief for achalasia. Today, Mouen Khashab performs that procedure — peroral endoscopic myotemy — regularly.

The supply of donor livers continues to lag behind demand, leaving many sick people not quite sick enough to qualify for a transplant. That’s why hepatologist Ahmet Gurakar and transplant surgeon Nabil Dagher are boosting Johns Hopkins’ live-donor liver transplant program.

As always, we welcome your thoughts, and we invite you to call on us if we can contribute to your practice.