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Health Questions & Answers #67 ~ [Issue 0805-4]  Wellness Weekly
 Aug 28, 2005 12:14 PDT 

Q & A #1:
Is a doctor's office surgery safe?

Any surgery involving a general anesthetic should be done in a
hospital or an ambulatory surgery center (sometimes called a same-day
surgery department). It is true that as many as one in five so-called
elective procedures are being done in doctors' offices, this is not
always a good thing. A study from Florida has shown that "adverse
incidents" (i.e. something going wrong) occur in 66 per 100,000
office and only 5.3 per 100,000 ambulant surgery procedures. The
death rate was 9.2 patients per 100,000 in offices vs. 0.78 per
100,000 in surgery centers. Why this 10-fold difference in risk?
Probably because there is (or has been) lack of oversight of doctors
offices, and indeed, of the doctors themselves who do office surgery.
The doctors may be inadequately trained, or working outside their
specialty, or have inferior equipment. One should check the doctor's
credentials with their state medical board, find out if the office is
state-licensed for surgery, enquire who will be giving the
anesthetic, and ask how emergencies are handled. Only if he/she is
totally satisfied with the answers should they agree to an
office-based procedure.

Q & A #2:
Is there any benefit to using flaxseed oil and baking with it
compared to taking flaxseed oil tablets?

It is very healthy to use flax seeds sprinkled on food and in baking,
but if you want to help prevent heart disease, flaxseed oil or
capsules would be more beneficial. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are rich
in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that appears
to be beneficial for heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease,
arthritis, and a variety of other health problems. Flax seeds have a
pleasant, nutty flavor and taste good sprinkled on salads, cooked
vegetables, or cereals. The oil is quite tasty, too, although
expensive. Here are some flax tips: Grind the seeds or else chew them
very well - whole seeds simply pass through the body. Grinding the
seeds just before using them best preserves flavor and nutrition, but
pre-ground seeds are more convenient. Keep them refrigerated. There
are no nutritional differences between brown and yellow seeds.
Combine flaxseed flour with wheat flour for breads, quick breads, and
pancakes. Ready-made flaxseed breads, muffins, cereals, and breakfast
bars can be found in many stores. The oil spoils quickly; it comes in
dark bottles to extend its shelf life. Keep it refrigerated, and pay
attention to the expiration date. "Cold-pressed" flaxseed oil is more
expensive but not really better than other kinds.

Q & A #3:
What are the risks for leg artery bypass surgery and is this a very
serious operation?

Partial blockage of leg arteries results from poor circulation of
blood due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, or blockage of
arteries, can occur for many reasons such as smoking, diabetes, and
high cholesterol. The blockage produces an aching, tired, and
sometimes burning pain in the legs that is brought on by exercise and
relieved by rest. Claudication is the term that refers to the limping
that occurs from leg cramps. Intermittent claudication may occur in
both legs, and it often continues to worsen over time. However, some
people complain only of weakness in the legs when walking, or a
feeling of "tiredness" in the buttocks. Leg artery bypass surgery
involves taking a vein from the body or an artificial vein to
construct a bypass around a blocked main leg artery. If leg artery
bypass surgery is needed, a vascular surgeon who specializes in
problems of the blood vessels will perform the procedure. This
surgery takes from one to three hours. General anesthesia is normally
required. Anesthesia risks include allergic reactions to medication
and problems breathing. Surgical risks always include bleeding and
infection. The surgery can restore blood supply to the lower leg and
relieve leg pain caused by the clogged artery. This procedure can
also prevent the need for amputation of part of the leg because of
poor blood supply.
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