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your Volume 2, Issue 2


Your Guide to Healthy Living from Georgia Health Sciences Health System


Advanced GI tests and care New therapy for lung and liver cancers Specialized care for at-risk pregnancies New Gamma Knife technology for brain lesions Coronary artery calcium scans

Scan this code with a QR code reader to go to the Georgia Health Sciences app!

A shoulder to lean on Support groups at Georgia Health Sciences Health System ALS Support Group Lunch and Learn

Let’s Talk Cancer Support Group

When: Second Thursday of each month, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Lunch is served. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Medical Office Building, 4th floor, Room 4306 Call: 706-721-2681 for reservations

When: Second Tuesday of each month, 5:30–7 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center, 1411 Laney Walker Blvd., 1st floor, Community Room Call: 706-721-0550 for more information

Autism Support Group When: First Tuesday of each month, 6–7 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center, 1446 Harper St., 1st floor, Family Resource Library Call: 706-721-5160 for more information

Blood Cancer/BMT Support Group



Inside this issue Page 3 Tips for a safe and healthy spring

Pages 4–5

Focus on Women • Premature menopause • Specialized care for at-risk pregnancies

Pages 6–7 Multiple Sclerosis Support Group When: Last Monday of each month, 6–7:30 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center, Augusta MS Center, 6th floor Call: 706-721-1411 for more information or to make reservations

Weight Loss Surgery Seminars

When: Third Thursday of each month, 5:30–7 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center, 1411 Laney Walker Blvd., 1st floor, Community Room Call: 706-721-1634 for more information

When: Second and fourth Thursday of each month Where: Columbia County Library (second Thursday); Georgia Health Sciences Alumni Center (fourth Thursday) Call: 706-721-2609 for more information

Breastfeeding Class

Trauma Support Group

When: April 17, June 5, July 24, 7–9 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center, 1120 15th St., West Entrance, 1st floor, Patient and Family Resource Library Call: 706-721-9351 for more information

When: Third Wednesday of each month, noon–1 p.m. Where: Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center Call: 706-721-4633 for more information

For a complete list of classes and support groups, visit

Cancer Prevention • Thyroidectomy without visible scarring • New therapy for lung and liver cancer

Page 8

Heart-Healthy Living • Coronary artery calcium scoring

Page 9

Neuroscience • New Gamma Knife technology for brain lesions

Pages 10–11

Family Health • Advanced tests and care for GI problems • The importance of pediatric orthopedics

Page 12

In the News • Winning the Consumer Choice Award

The material in Your Health Today is not intended for diagnosing or prescribing. Consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment. For more information, please call 800-736-CARE (2273) or visit our website at


Copyright © 2012 Georgia Health Sciences Health System

Tips for a safe and healthy spring

Children and swimming lessons

Images on any of these pages may be from one or more of these sources: © 2012 Thinkstock and © 2012


ith warmer weather, your family may head for the lake or pool. But remember this: drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in children under age 14. Yet for developmental reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming classes for children only after they reach age 4. Teaching children to swim at an appropriate age is important, but it won’t necessarily prevent drowning. Don’t leave children unsupervised around water.

Flip-flop flaps


heir easy, breezy style make flip-flops a wardrobe staple in spring and summer. But this flimsy footwear offers little support or protection for your feet. Flip-flops can lead to stress fractures, tendonitis, sprained ankles, ligament injures, cuts, scrapes, stubbed toes and other accidents and disorders. To protect your feet, look for sturdy flip-flops that bear the seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Anticipating allergies

Spring clean your makeup kit



o you dread spring because of seasonal allergies and the sneezing, itching, runny nose and watery eyes they cause? If so, you may take prescription or over-thecounter antihistamines. But did you know that these medications are more effective if taken before exposure to allergens? What’s more, pollen starts building up much earlier than you might think. If you suffer from spring allergies, don’t wait for symptoms. Speak to your physician about the best medications to take and the best time to take them.

iquid or creamy makeup can harbor bacteria and cause eye infections. That’s why ophthalmologists recommend replacing mascara, cream eye shadow and base within three months after opening. Therefore, it’s a good idea to clean your makeup kit at the beginning of every season. Don’t share your makeup with others or use anyone else’s makeup. Also, avoid using open makeup testers in stores, as this is a common route for infection.


Focus on Women

Premature menopause When “The Change” comes early


rregular periods, hot flashes, sleeplessness— these signs of menopause are generally experienced by women between ages 45 and 55. “But some women have these symptoms in their 30s due to premature menopause that is not surgically induced,” says Adelina Emmi, MD, an OB/GYN who specializes in reproductive endocrinology at Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center.

Risk factors The risk of early menopause is greater for women who have:

• undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy • a personal or family history of autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease or lupus

Overcome bladder problems with robotic surgery


ith menopause, many women experience incontinence, bladder prolapse or overactive bladder. Brent Parnell, MD, a urogynecologist who specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Georgia Health Sciences Women’s Center, offers a full range of treatments for these conditions, including da Vinci robotic surgery for minimal scarring, shorter recoveries and less pain.

Depend on Georgia Health Sciences Menopause Program This program offers all the resources needed to diagnose menopause, treat its symptoms and help you manage related health risks. Treatments may include bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, if needed. To schedule an appointment, call 706-721-CARE (2273), or visit

• unsuccessfully tried to become pregnant for more than a year

• a mother or sister who experienced premature menopause

Premature menopause can also cause early and unexpected infertility.

“If you are under age 40 and have experienced any of these conditions, speak with your physician,” Dr. Emmi says.

Making a diagnosis If you are worried about missed periods, consult your

The signs and symptoms Like menopause, premature menopause can cause:

• irregular, skipped, lighter or heavier periods • hot flashes and night sweats • vaginal dryness • decreased sexual desire • sleeplessness • emotional changes 4

physician. There are a number of potential reasons for this problem, but it’s important to identify the cause. Your physician will perform a physical exam and blood work to rule out other conditions like pregnancy and thyroid disease. He or she may also measure your levels of estradiol to see if your ovaries are failing, and possibly perform a follicle stimulating hormone test, the key test in diagnosing menopause.

High-risk pregnancy? Get the specialists and facilities you deserve


f you want to give your baby a strong start in life, it’s important to do all you can to have a fullterm pregnancy. “Premature babies—or those born more than three weeks early—are at increased risk of medical and developmental problems,” says Paul Browne, MD, associate professor and section director of MaternalFetal Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center.

• regular or frequent contractions

• constant, dull backache

• vaginal spotting or bleeding

• watery vaginal discharge or a

Signs and symptoms Your obstetrician may inform you that you are at risk of a preterm birth or you may experience these signs and symptoms:

Any pregnancy can become high risk


o why take a chance? Depend on Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center. We are uniquely prepared to deal with the complications of pregnancy and care for premature infants. We offer: • board-certified maternal-fetal medicine physicians who specialize in high-risk pregnancies • the area’s only Regional Perinatal Center for high-risk pregnancies • the area’s only Level III D neonatal intensive care unit • the area’s largest team of neonatologists, who specialize in treating ill or premature infants • a team of pediatric specialists including cardiologists, pulmonologists, neurologists and others

change in vaginal

Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center is 1 of 6 state-designated Perinatal Centers prepared to handle pregnancy complications.


• menstrual-like cramps • a feeling of pressure in your pelvis • diarrhea “If you suspect you’re in premature labor, call your physician’s office,” Dr. Browne says.

Specialized care for special patients Although many obstetricians provide high-risk care, only those with additional fellowship training become board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center staffs such physicians. They will work with your primary obstetrician to manage your pregnancy, whether you’re at risk of preterm or multiple births, you’re an older mother or you have diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions.

A Perinatal Center and state-of-the-art NICU We also operate 1 of 6 state-designated Regional

Get baby off to a healthy start To schedule an appointment with a skilled OB/GYN, call 706-721-CARE (2273). For more information, visit

Perinatal Centers with all the resources you’ll need to help you carry your baby as long as possible. In addition, the Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center operates the area’s only Level III D (highest level) neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


Cancer Prevention

Thyroid cancer Robotic surgery eliminates neck scars and hospitalization

Signs and symptoms Thyroid nodules are generally discovered during routine exams, but may cause:

• a lump at the base of the neck • difficulty swallowing • hoarseness • swollen lymph nodes in the neck See your physician if you experience these symptoms.


hyroid cancers develop in the cells of the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. “Although thyroid cancer is not common in the United States, rates are increasing dramatically. A component of this may be related to technological advances that allow for earlier detection of thyroid nodules,” says David Terris, MD. Dr. Terris is the surgical director of Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center’s Thyroid and Parathyroid Center. The only center of its kind in the area, it is staffed by endocrinologists, surgeons and radiologists who deliver streamlined multidisciplinary care for patients with cancer and other problems of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.

He or she may recommend a biopsy to determine if your nodules are benign or malignant. “If the biopsy indicates cancer or if the nodules are pressing on the throat or causing trouble swallowing, a thyroidectomy, or surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, may be needed,” Dr. Terris says.

A new surgical option Traditional thyroidectomies require hospitalization and a 3- to 4-inch incision in the neck, which leaves a visible scar. Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center offers a more advanced option. It is the only hospital in the Southeast offering robotic facelift thyroidectomy for thyroid nodules. The procedure is performed through an incision behind the ear to avoid visible scarring. “The robotic system also delivers high-definition images and allows for unparalleled surgical precision, facilitating outcomes,” Dr. Terris says.

Dr. Terris featured on CBS’ “The Doctors”


r. Terris appeared on a segment of CBS’ “The Doctors” on Nov. 30, 2011, to demonstrate his breakthrough robotic facelift thyroidectomy. To view a clip of the segment, visit

Don’t let thyroid problems impact your health Call 706-721-CARE (2273) to schedule an appointment with an experienced endocrinologist.


New hope for lung and liver cancer patients Stereotactic body radiotherapy


adiation oncologists at Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center are now offering a non-surgical therapeutic alternative for select patients with lung, liver and certain other cancers. Known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), it uses high doses of targeted radiation therapy to ablate, or destroy, tumors that have not spread. SBRT does not harm healthy surrounding tissue.

A paradigm shift “Radiation therapy has traditionally been delivered in small doses over a course of about six weeks to kill cancer cells. This small dosage allowed patients to tolerate the therapy while minimizing side effects,” says Theodore Chung, MD, PhD, medical director of Radiation Oncology at Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center. But new technologies are now allowing physicians to safely deliver large doses of radiation therapy, while still minimizing side effects. Patients are immobilized with

Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center offers leading-edge radiation therapy.

Georgia Health Sciences researchers advancing cancer care


hysicians at Georgia Health Sciences Cancer Center also conduct groundbreaking research to revolutionize cancer care. Dr. Chung and his colleagues are investigating how molecularly derived compounds can be used to boost the effects of radiation therapy in cancer patients. When used together, the two therapies are far more effective than either single treatment.

Your path to wellness To schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung, call 706-721-2971. For more information, visit georgiahealth. org/cancer

special equipment and treated with therapy over just a three-day period. “SBRT may be appropriate for patients who are not good candidates for surgery or for extended courses of

About Dr. Chung As a nationally renowned radiation oncologist,

radiation and have one or possibly two early-stage tumors

Dr. Chung brings advanced training and experience to

that have not spread,” Dr. Chung says. “With SBRT,

cancer patients in the CSRA and beyond.

there’s no hospitalization, general anesthesia or incision,

Dr. Chung trained at Johns Hopkins, was awarded

so patients can get back to their normal routines quickly,

the American Cancer Society’s “Junior Investigator

without fear of bleeding or infections. What’s more,

Award,” and has been named one of America’s Top

studies indicate that patients experience better outcomes

Doctors every year since 2009. He has more than

with SBRT than with surgery.”

20 years of clinical and research experience.


Heart-Healthy Living

Coronary artery calcium scans What’s the score?

Health Sciences Cardiovascular Center. “The test lets physicians calculate a score that helps estimate your heart attack risk and guide treatment options.”


he first step in preventing heart disease is understanding your individual risks, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other factors. But you may be unaware of one risk factor: specks of calcium, called calcifications, in the walls of the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart. “Fortunately, a test known as a coronary calcium scan can measure the calcium in the walls of these arteries,” says Sheldon Litwin, MD, a cardiologist at Georgia

Are you a candidate? Anyone who may be at risk for developing heart disease can benefit from calcium screening. But the test is particularly beneficial in men between ages 45 and 75, and in women between ages 55 and 75. The simple, noninvasive test uses computed tomography (CT) technology to produce images from which a physician will determine

Easy access to coronary artery calcium scans


n our efforts to prevent heart attacks, Georgia Health Sciences is now offering coronary artery calcium scans without a physician’s referral. Most insurance plans do not yet cover this valuable test, but the cost of the scan and physician interpretation is just $100, with payment due at the time of screening. You’ll be notified of the results as soon as possible after completing the test.

your calcium score. The scan takes less than five minutes, and there’s no pain or discomfort.

Benefits of the test The test may allow your physician to detect

The test lets physicians calculate a score that helps estimate your heart attack risk.” —Sheldon Litwin, MD

calcifications in the early stages and develop a strategy to prevent a heart attack. It also reduces the need for more invasive and expensive tests and provides

Protect your heart To schedule an appointment with a cardiologist, call 706-721-CARE (2273). To schedule a scan, call 706-721-XRAY (9729) or visit

you with peace of mind. Using your calcium score, along with your other risk factors, your physician can determine your likelihood of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease and customize a treatment plan based on your individual risks.



Brain power New Gamma Knife technology for brain lesions


rain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia and other abnormalities in the brain are frightening diagnoses. To make matters worse, some patients then learn that traditional brain surgery is too risky for them. But Georgia Health Sciences Gamma Knife Center, the only center of its kind in Eastern Georgia and the only center in Georgia attached to a children’s hospital, offers new hope. The center has implemented the most advanced technology on the market, making lifesaving Gamma Knife surgery available to adults and children.

us to treat multiple brain metastases more effectively, which enhances patient comfort,” Dr. Vender says. “The Perfexion can also treat areas of the brain, skull base and regions of the head and neck that were unreachable with the older technology. And, with the addition of the eXtend technology, we can treat large tumors in two to five sessions, something we could not do before.” The treatment can also be used for:

• pituitary tumors • tumors of the skull base, sinuses, throat and upper neck

• Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors • certain types of epilepsy and chronic pain syndrome • other disorders

What is Gamma Knife surgery? Gamma Knife surgery is a type of highly sophisticated radiation therapy that has been around for years. There’s no knife, no incision. “The procedure uses hundreds of beams of radiation focused on the exact location of the abnormality in the brain, making it much more effective than conventional radiation therapy,” says John Vender, MD, a neurosurgeon and director of the Georgia Health Sciences Gamma Knife Center. But the old technology was limited in the size of lesions it could treat and the areas it could reach. And it could not treat larger tumors or lesions in multiple sessions.

New technology, new hope That’s all changed, thanks to a new generation of Gamma Knife. Known as Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™ with the eXtend™ program, the technology overcomes these limitations. “With the Perfexion, we can reach a wider array of targets in a single session. The faster treatment times allow

If you need a neurosurgeon For more information or to schedule an appointment with a skilled neurosurgeon, call 706-721-CARE (2273) or visit


Family Health

Find the cause of your GI problem At the area’s only Motility Clinic


astrointestinal problems can interfere with your daily routine, cause embarrassing symptoms and indicate serious medical conditions. Yet they can be difficult to diagnose and treat without specialized training, advanced technology and multidisciplinary care.

Understanding the brain-gut connection “Many digestive disorders are caused by disruptions in how food, gas or waste move through the digestive tract—a process known as motility,” says Satish Rao, MD, a globally renowned neurogastroenterologist and motility specialist at Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center. This process generally occurs through rhythmic muscle contractions. But when the nerves and muscles do

Advanced technology makes the difference The clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat complex and subtle disruptions of motility in the:

• esophagus, to diagnose and treat heartburn, pain and swallowing disorders

• stomach, to diagnose and treat gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying, and abdominal pain or discomfort

• small intestine, to find the cause of gas and bloating and treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or bacterial overgrowth

• large intestine or colon, to identify the cause of and treat constipation, diarrhea or IBS

• pelvic floor and rectum, to find the cause of fecal incontinence or difficulty with bowel movements and treat it. Treatments include biofeedback therapy.

The only multidisciplinary GI care in Georgia


igestive disorders often affect multiple areas of the body and require multidisciplinary care, which can be difficult to find. As an academic medical center, Georgia Health Sciences offers that care. Our gastroenterologists, hepatologists and neurogastroenterologists work closely with surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, otolaryngologists (ENT doctors), urogynecologists and urologists to coordinate care and foster positive outcomes. For more information, visit

not work properly to cause these contractions, the process is disturbed, causing digestive problems. Fortunately, Georgia Health Sciences operates a Motility Clinic that is 1 of only 10 in the nation to be designated a “Center of Excellence” by the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society.


Don’t let motility problems undermine your active lifestyle Call 706-721-9522 to schedule a quick, convenient appointment with an esteemed motility expert.

No bones about it Kids need specialized orthopedic care


hildren aren't just small adults. Their growth and development often create unique medical problems. Take, for example, their bones. “Unlike adults, whose bone growth is complete, children have growing tissue known as growth plates near the end of long bones,” says David Cearley, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center. “During childhood and adolescence, these growth plates are the weakest areas of the skeleton, making them vulnerable to injury.”

dysplasia of the hip, scoliosis, spondylolysis, spina bifida, leg length discrepancy and

Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center staffs the area’s only pediatric orthopedic surgeons.

musculoskeletal injuries in children from birth to age 16. Treatments include injections and aspirations to relieve pain and promote healing as well as prescriptions for bracing, orthotics and medications. When needed, the team also offers a full range of traditional and minimally invasive arthroscopic surgeries.

Special bones, special care If your child suffers a musculoskeletal disorder,

A multidisciplinary treatment team

look for a physician who understands the developing

Care is coordinated with pediatric

skeleton and has the specialized training needed to

anesthesiologists, oncologists and other

diagnose and treat kids. You’ll find such specialists at the Children’s

specialists as well as orthopedic surgeons with training in virtually every subspecialty.

Medical Center. It staffs the area’s only pediatric

Your child will receive multidisciplinary

orthopedic surgeons. These physicians

care not found in any other area facility.

are fellowship trained, the highest level

Your child will also have access to

of training for physicians, and treat

sports medicine physicians as well as

patients throughout the Southeast.

physical and occupational therapists who care exclusively for children in

Comprehensive care The team offers a full range of

a dedicated pediatric rehabilitation center.

diagnostic tests, including X-rays,

Get the specialized orthopedic care

ultrasounds, magnetic resonance

your child deserves. After all, he or she will

imaging scans and computed

live with the outcome for years to come.

tomography scans. They also deliver advanced care for bone tumors, brachial plexus palsy, cerebral palsy, club foot, congenital limb defects,

For healthy bones To schedule an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic specialist, call 706-721-CARE (2273) or visit


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In the News

A consuming passion, passionate consumers

Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center was selected as Augusta's top-rated hospital for overall quality and image.

The company, which conducts the nation’s largest

Local patients select Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center as area’s top hospital


t Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center, our physicians and employees care deeply about the well-being of every person we treat, from the premature infants in our neonatal infant care unit to the children and teens with heart disorders or cancer in the Children’s Medical Center to seniors undergoing heart procedures at our Cardiovascular Center. Patients in our area have now recognized this commitment by selecting us as Augusta’s top-rated hospital for overall quality and image in a consumer health care survey conducted by the National Research Corporation.

consumer health care study of its kind, has given Georgia Health Sciences Medical System its 2011/2012 Consumer Choice Award for our area. The award is based on a survey of 3,200 health care facilities named by consumers in 48 states and the District of Columbia. “Consumers are becoming more educated than ever and taking an active role in their health care. As a result, they are demanding the comprehensive, coordinated and multidisciplinary care they receive at an academic medical center such as Georgia Health Sciences,” says David S. Hefner, executive vice president of Clinical Affairs. Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center offers a range of specialists, medical technologies and therapies not available at other area facilities. “This award shows that we are meeting the needs of our patients by delivering advanced solutions to their problems in a caring, compassionate environment,” Hefner says. “We are honored by this award.”

Your Health Today - Spring 2012  
Your Health Today - Spring 2012  

Georgia Health Sciences Health System quarterly magazine - Your Health Today, Spring 2012