New nutrition trends pop up online and in health magazines all the time. With so much advice floating around, it’s easy to get confused about the right foods to eat. We went straight to the experts—Altru’s dietitians—and asked them to bust three popular nutrition trends. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Myth: Gluten free diets result in weight loss.
Truth: A gluten free diet is followed when someone has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. A gluten free diet consists of eliminating barley, rye, oats and wheat. Weight loss may occur if you eliminate most chips, cookies and desserts. If the chips, cookies and desserts are replaced with gluten free items, the calories are usually the same, due to using a different form of flour. So, if you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac and want to lose weight, reducing calories and increasing exercise is the way to go.
2. Myth: Juicing (the process of removing juice from fresh fruits and vegetables) results in weight loss.
Truth: Juicing is no healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juice is often lower in nutrients, and the fiber content is near zero. Whole foods usually contain more vitamins and minerals, as many of these nutrients are in or near the skin, which gets discarded as pulp when juiced. Your body does not absorb nutrients better in juice form.
Yet, juicing isn’t all bad. Additional truths:
Some juicers do reserve the extracted pulp. This fiber-rich pulp can be added to soups, stew and quick breads for added benefit.
Juicing may improve nutritional intake by incorporating fruits and veggies that may not get eaten due to flavor or texture preferences.
Juicing can be used as part of a sensible weight loss program, which would also include a variety of nutritious whole foods.
The bottom line: when enjoyed in moderation, fresh-squeezed juice can be a nice way to get in more vitamins and minerals from a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the best way to lose weight and promote optimal health is to eat a well-balanced diet made up of foods from all food groups.
3. Myth: Since dietary supplements are easily available – and don’t require a prescription – they are safer than drug products and can be used to self-treat illness without a health professional’s advice or supervision.
Truth: Taking supplements will not necessarily improve your performance and can be dangerous. More is not better. Studies have shown that some herbal products interact with drugs and can have a wide range of effects, including:
John’s Wort may interfere with drugs used by organ transplant patients, and drugs used to treat depression, seizures and certain cancers
Some alter effectiveness of oral contraceptives
Garlic, ginko, danshen and dong quai can cause the blood to thin
Always consult with your health care professional prior to taking dietary supplements.
4. Myth: Avoid carbohydrates to lose weight.
Truth: Cutting back on carbs may help you lose weight in the short term, but this is mainly because you are eating less food and calories. Significantly reducing carbohydrates means you will miss out on nutritional benefits provided by healthy choices, such as whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy, and dried peas and beans. Low carb diets are restrictive and hard to follow. The weight you lose will likely be regained.
5. Myth: Coconut oil is healthier than olive oil.
Truth: Coconut oil does not offer any more health benefits beyond olive oil. In fact, it may be unhealthy if consumed in large amounts due to its saturated fat content.
Coconut oil is rapidly increasing in popularity and health claims range from helping people lose weight to curing Alzheimer’s disease. There are two basic categories of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet can raise LDL “bad” cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. It also raises HDL “good” cholesterol.
Olive oil is mainly an unsaturated fat, and unsaturated fats lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and raise HDL “good” cholesterol. Coconut oil can be used occasionally for its flavor or to replace other hard fat sources, such as vegetable shortening in baking.
6. Myth: A healthy diet is too expensive.
Truth: Consider not only the cost at the grocery store, but also the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases. It’s possible to eat well on a budget.
Obesity, heart disease and diabetes could be dramatically reduced by a healthy diet. While groceries do add up quickly, it’s difficult to put a price on healthy eating. To help keep healthy foods a part of any budget, keep the following in mind:
Get into the habit of menu planning and shopping from a list. Avoid wandering aimlessly through the store, picking up items you might end up using.
Pay attention at the checkout. Make sure prices are tallied correctly.
Buy store brands. These are often 15-20 percent less expensive when compared to national brands, while the quality is very similar.
Shop the perimeter of the store to avoid tempting convenience items in the middle aisles. These are often less healthy and more expensive.
Use coupons and watch sales to take advantage of great deals. Remember: the deal isn’t so great if you don’t need the food or won’t use it.
Eggs, beans, canned tuna, frozen veggies, peanut butter and seasonal fruits and veggies are a few healthy foods that won’t break the bank.
Plan a meatless meal once or twice a week. (See Myth #3.)
7. Myth: A vegetarian diet does not provide enough protein.
Truth: Protein doesn’t just come from animal products. Beans, nuts and whole grains can provide ample protein for almost everyone as part of a well-planned diet.
Plant-based proteins are loaded with other nutrients as well: fiber, folate, potassium and antioxidants, to name a few. Substituting meat for beans and using animal protein as an accent rather than the main event of a dish are effective strategies to prepare filling and nutritious meals. Eating plant-based protein sources may also help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and slash your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Sharing concerns with your doctor, scheduling appointments and getting access to your medical information has never been this easy. With eVisits and MyHealth, Altru Health System is becoming more present online.
Altru eVisits Have you ever had a little cough that you just weren’t sure about or a rash that didn’t seem quite worth a trip to the hospital?
Now by using Altru eVisits, you can tell Altru professionals your symptoms right on your smartphone or your computer. You even have the ability to add a picture to your eVisit if your concern is something visible. By doing so, an Altru provider can diagnose you online, give you a plan of action and/or send in your prescription. Or, they can let you know that it is worth coming in to have a physician look at it in person.
Altru eVisits are great in many different instances and will have a positive impact on:
Patients with busy schedules
Patients with limited mobility
Visits that don’t require physical interaction
If you have a specific issue that isn’t an emergency, there is a good chance it can be resolved by an Altru eVisit. Remember, if your medical issue is urgent, do not wait for an eVisit consult.
Although it is a very exciting opportunity, before you jump right into your first eVisit, you must have already been a patient with Altru Health System and have an established MyHealth account. Log on to your MyHealth account to initiate an eVisit.
MyHealth Along with our new online visits, Altru offers MyHealth online medical site. By being a former patient of Altru and by signing up for a MyHealth account you can:
Communicate with your provider’s office
Schedule/Cancel medical appointments. View upcoming and past appointments.
Pay bills securely.
View most test results, Radiology and Pathology reports and provider outpatient progress notes.
Request portions of your Medical Record with Altru (some fees may apply).
Rita Brodina spent over 25 years working as a nurse at the Good Samaritan Society in Park River. She retired in June of 2016, looking forward to spending time with her grandkids and working in her garden. Unfortunately, hip and back pain were getting in the way of her plans.
“I wasn’t able to live my normal life,” explained Rita. “Simply walking to the garden was difficult. Bending over to get cookies out of the oven became a challenge. The pain was keeping me from my normal activities.”
Rita sought care for her pain for several months without finding the right solution. She saw a chiropractor, tried physical therapy and nothing seemed to help.
Finally, after an X-ray indicated her hip might be the culprit of most of her pain, she was referred to Dr. Jeremy Gardner at Altru Advanced Orthopedics. Wanting to avoid surgery if possible, Dr. Gardner first treated Rita with a cortisone injection to see if that would ease her pain. For a while it was successful, but after a few weeks her pain was back.
“At that point, my pain was so distracting and had been for so long that I knew a more long-term solution was necessary.”
“Dr. Gardner was confident I was a good candidate for a replacement with the robotic arm,” remembers Rita. “They took a CT scan of my hip to ensure everything would match up precisely, and my new joint would be a perfect fit for me.”
“The class was so important for my husband,” shared Rita. “It really showed him that he would have to be my coach and partner through this, and that he’d have a big role right after surgery. The information made him more comfortable with that and prepared us both.”
Rita had her replacement on November 21, 2016, at 7:30 a.m., and by 2:30 p.m. that same day, she was walking to the bathroom with the help of a therapist.
“It was really kind of amazing. I was up and moving so soon, already starting exercises with physical therapists in the hospital and preparing to leave the day after my surgery.”
Now, about four months later, Rita is looking forward to getting her garden ready for summer without assistance.
“Before my surgery, I was in too much pain to tend to my garden, so my kids had to help me,” shared Rita. “I’m so looking forward to doing my own flower beds.”
She’s also grateful to be more active with her grandkids since recovery.
“Before, I didn’t pick up my granddaughter,” reflected Rita. “I was unsteady, and it made me nervous. Now, she’s ten months old and I can carry her around. That feels great.”
With the advanced technology of the Mako Robotic Arm, a strong support system in her family and a dedication to her exercises to strengthen her leg and hip, Rita was able get back to an active and enjoyable retirement.
Growing up in northwestern Minnesota was like a giant playground for Matthew Sisler, an avid fisherman, hunter and overall outdoorsman.
On a Saturday in June of 2010, Matthew was at work, and his mother expected him home shortly after his shift ended. They had plans to go clothing shopping for an upcoming school trip. When Matthew did not return home as expected, worry overcame his mother, Beth.
Like many rural communities, word traveled quickly that Matthew was missing, and a small search was soon underway. Matthew was found within hours, a few miles from his home, his vehicle lodged in the ditch. He was disoriented in a country setting that should have been more than familiar to him.
Because he was alone and unable to recall what had actually happened, this frightening event was left unsolved and somewhat unexplainable. Matthew was 17 at the time, received routine care and went on with his youthful adventures.
In January 2011 while ice fishing, Matthew experienced a seizure that raised more concern and initiated more medical care, with no clear diagnosis of a problem. Within a few short weeks, Matthew experienced yet another seizure while at school and was quickly transported to the emergency room in Thief River Falls. It was after the third incident that appointments were arranged with Dr. Matthew Roller, a neurologist at Altru Health System. Soon, EEG and MRI’s became common acronyms in the Sislers’ vocabulary.
Dr. Roller was determined to treat and diagnose whatever was causing the seizures. Matthew’s mother, Beth, smiles, “We have always had a lot of confidence in Dr. Roller.”
Rhonda, Dr. Roller’s nurse, worked closely with Matthew and his family to find the best fit with seizure medication. This type of medication can alter personality, and the Sislers appreciated Rhonda’s extreme patience, understanding and informative style during a scary and trying time.
Consulting with Mayo Experts
Dr. Roller recognized the benefit the Mayo Clinic Care Network could provide in properly treating Matthew. He reached out to his colleagues at Mayo with an eConsult, discussing the conditions Matthew was experiencing. Tests led to the diagnosis and finding of Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), or a tangle of blood vessels in the brain that occurs in less than one percent of the population. Matthew was sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester to further discuss options, which included invasive surgery or the Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. The therapy took place at Mayo in June of 2011.
“Everything at Mayo is like clockwork and very organized,” Matthew said. “There are no guessing games.”
All of Matthew’s follow-up care, from his initial Gamma Knife radiosurgery to his second surgery in June of 2015, has been at Altru’s Neurology department with the utilization of the Mayo Clinic Care Network through Dr. Roller. The exchange of information and quick responses to questions or concerns have been comforting for Matthew and his family. The availability of eConsults at Altru has saved the Sislers many miles and hours of travel, time away from work and responsibilities at home, and has reduced the financial burden.
Matthew’s condition, while difficult to detect, could have resulted in a stroke if left unidentified. Dr. Roller’s knowledge, coupled with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, has allowed Matthew to continue doing all the things he loves. He is a true outdoor enthusiast, hunting and fishing as often as possible, a wonderful brother, a fiancé ready to start a life with his bride-to-be, a first responder, a board member and a volunteer with the Red Lake Falls Ambulance service. Matthew says, “Life goes on. I haven’t stopped living.”
Anyone who has visited a doctor’s office or spent a day in the hospital might feel like they know what it means to be a nurse. But the truth is, nursing is more than meets the eye and much more in demand than Americans probably realize.
Nursing has become the fastest-growing occupation in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, there were approximately 2.6 million nursing jobs in the country. By 2018, estimates show that figure will grow to 3.2 million – a 22 percent increase of a half-million jobs.
Why the Demand? Many factors contribute to the increasing need for nurses in the workforce. One of the biggest reasons is simple demographics. As the baby boom generation ages, more people need healthcare services. Studies show as many as 1/3 of people over the age of 65 have more than one chronic health condition.
But it isn’t just the aging baby boomers causing the need for more nurses. Jennifer Nuelle-Dimoulas, director of regional clinic operations for Altru Health System, says part of the issue is the high number of veteran nurses nearing retirement. She says of the estimated three million nurses in the United States, about 1/3 of them are over the age of 50.
“By 2025 we expect this will be the largest shortage of nurses since Medicare and Medicaid started in the 1960s,” she says.
Nuelle-Dimoulas says there is also more competition from other occupational fields. Women today aspire to many different kinds of careers, whereas—prior to 1970—they might have felt limited to teaching or nursing.
Healthy Salaries But healthcare professionals are working hard to encourage people to give nursing another look, and it starts with salaries. Recent nursing school graduates can receive some of the highest starting salaries in the nation and have potential for raises as they gain career experiences.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for a nurse in 2015 was approximately $67,000. Nurses in personal care services, which include work in doctors’ offices, hospital and outpatient facilities, are the leading earners.
Nurses who opt to continue their training and education can expect even higher salaries. Advanced practice nurse practitioners (APRN’s) which include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners have a median salary of about $105,000 a year.
Room for Growth and Change Many people who choose nursing for a career will tell you they enjoy the flexibility it affords. With more than 100 nursing specialties—as well as advanced nursing degrees—nurses don’t need to stay in the same career track for years unless they choose. Movement can be lateral—from one specialized area to the next—or progressive, where nurses climb the ranks to supervisory or administrative positions.
With the great number of nursing jobs available at healthcare facilities, many nurses looking for employment can write their own ticket, choosing what kind of nursing work they’d like to do and the hours and days they want to work.
But Nuelle-Dimoulas says nursing goes beyond direct patient care. She says nurses with advanced degrees are policy makers, researchers and decision makers.
“Nursing is as creative as one sets their mind to be,” Nuelle-Dimoulas says. “The opportunities in nursing are expansive. Whatever piques your interest, there is a field of nursing for it. I’ve lived that creativity myself.”
Before accepting her position at Altru in 2016, Nuelle-Dimoulas—who is a native of Langdon, North Dakota—used her nurse and nurse practitioner degrees in a variety of ways from editing a medical journal to developing healthcare applications in IT and working in international medicine in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“I would challenge everyone to expand their view of nursing with a dose of creativity and imagination. The possibilities are limitless,” she says. “I have the benefit of looking at my career in a rear view mirror and I can see just how incredible it is.”
Beating an average of 115,200 beats per day, hearts provide the lifeblood of oxygen and nutrients to keep our bodies alive and well. A lot goes on in those four little chambers.
Dr. Rabeea Aboufakher, section chief of cardiology at Altru Health System, explains some of the most common heart diseases, as well as risk factors and lifestyle prevention tips to keep your ticker in top shape.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
What it is: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a chronic disease characterized by plaque buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries. These are the small arteries that run on the surface of the heart muscle and provide the heart with blood. Blockage can develop slowly to cause angina (chest discomfort on exertion) or suddenly to cause a heart attack.
What you can control: High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol through lifestyle modifications or medication. Smoking cessation is particularly important. Patients with CAD will also benefit from a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as regular exercise. Weight is important, but diet and exercise matter even more. Certain medications such as aspirin and a statin reduce the risk of future cardiac events.
What you can’t control: Family history plays a role. While you can manage high blood pressure and diabetes with lifestyle and/or medication, the onset of these conditions is not always in your control.
Treatment: When patients suffer from a heart attack caused by a blocked coronary artery, opening the artery with a stent is life-saving. At Altru, we have a team on call 24 hours a day to make sure this therapy is offered quickly and effectively. In certain situations, bypass surgery is needed and this too is offered at Altru.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
What it is: Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a chronic disease characterized by plaque buildup in the large peripheral arteries, such as the arteries that supply the lower extremities. In severe cases, it can lead to non-healing wounds and possible amputation. A common symptom is pain and fatigue in the leg muscles with walking.
What you can control: Similar to that for CAD, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol through lifestyle modifications or medication. Smoking cessation is particularly important.
Treatment: When the arteries are blocked, procedures such as balloons, stents or bypass surgery are needed. Altru offers all these treatments.
Congestive heart failure (CHF)
What it is: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a syndrome caused by inability of the heart muscle to pump blood adequately, failing to meet the demand of organs and tissues. Symptoms are related to fluid overload, such as shortness of breath and leg swelling. Any heart disease can result in CHF when advanced. Close follow-up is necessary to avoid fluid accumulation and hospital admissions.
What you can control: Follow a low sodium diet and occasional fluid restriction. Keep regular check-ups.
Treatment: Certain patients should have a defibrillator to protect them from dangerous arrhythmia. For others, a permanent monitor placed in the pulmonary artery can track fluid status and direct therapy. Altru offers all these services and will soon launch a special congestive heart failure clinic.
What it is: Atrial fibrillation is a very common arrhythmia. The atria, or the upper chambers of the heart, fibrillate (instead of squeeze), causing fast heart rates. Symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain, among others.
What you can control: Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is be aware. Keep regular check-ups.
What you can’t control: Family history.
Treatment: Medications are often needed to slow the heart rate. Blood thinners protect from blood clot formation inside the heart. Different treatments are available, including ablation procedure now offered at Altru.
Patients who already have heart disease benefit from regular visits with their cardiologist to assess symptoms and evaluate risk. For all, checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly is important to reduce risk. Stress testing can also be helpful if symptoms occur or are difficult to evaluate.
Dr. Rabeea Aboufakher is the section chief of cardiology at Altru Health system. He is board certified in cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology, internal medicine and geriatric medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention. In his free time, Dr. Aboufakher enjoys reading, swimming and playing table tennis.
Yet, music therapy and child life services at Altru have helped melt away Everly’s anxiety.
“We are able to sing favorite songs with Everly, her parents and the staff doing the procedure,” explains Leslie Saulsbury, Altru’s Board-Certified, Licensed Music Therapist. “This allows her to feel more comfortable, which results in the procedures going much smoother."
“Through the use of age appropriate distraction, toys, and comfort positioning, Everly is able to complete her weekly appointments with a smile on her face,” adds Melissa Swenson, Altru’s Certified Child Life Specialist.
Though music therapy and child life make a “dream team,” as Everly’s family calls it, music therapy and child life can co-treat, but frequently work with separate patients throughout Altru Health System.
Rocking & Rolling & Healing Leslie provides music therapy for patients of all ages in the medical/surgical unit, orthopedics, cardiac care, pediatrics, inpatient psychiatry, NICU, intensive care, surgical critical care, palliative care and oncology.
She uses clinical and evidence-based music interventions to help patients accomplish individualized goals. Through music, she helps patients like Everly reach non-musical goals, such as managing pain, anxiety or stress, enhancing wellness, expressing feelings or improving communication.
“To do this, we can play music, listen to music, write songs, improvise or engage in music-assisted guided imagery and relaxation,” explains Leslie. “Anyone can participate, regardless of musical ability. I’m using music to help patients cope during their hospital stay.”
And if patients are coping well, their whole hospital experience can have a more positive outcome.
In 2015, Altru made history by being the first hospital in the state of North Dakota to fund a music therapy position, and thousands of patients and families have been able to benefit from these services.
Instruments, equipment, and recorded music used in the program are funded by grants and donations. All music therapy services are complimentary for our patients.
Playing & Exploring & Healing The child life program, which has been in place at Altru for 23 years, is a complimentary service to pediatric patients and families.
“I help families cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness and end of life by providing age-appropriate information, emotional support, developing coping strategies and guidance to parents, siblings and extended family members,” explains Melissa. “I help explain a child’s diagnosis in ways they can understand, reducing fear, anxiety and pain.”
Melissa provides support using coping strategies and distraction with patients for procedures such as catheters, lab draws, IV starts, scans and dressing changes. When kids are prepared for what they will experience and are distracted with age appropriate activities, they will cope better with their procedure and it will be more positive for the medical team and their family.
Child Life is run by donations and is a complimentary service to approximately 2,500 pediatric patients and families a year.
Everly’s mom, Erin, shares, “Music therapy and child life has helped us make a scary experience for our daughter each week an enjoyable one. We are beyond grateful for this. She truly loves seeing these wonderful therapists each week and taking part in the singing and dancing.”
For more information about the music therapy program, or questions about donations, contact Leslie Saulsbury, MT-BC/L at email@example.com.
For more information about the child life program, or questions about donations, contact Melissa Swenson, CCLS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional golfer Phil Mickelson was preparing to compete in the 2010 U.S. Open when, unexpectedly, his joints started to ache.
When the tests came back, Mickelson learned he had psoriatic arthritis. Genetics, the environment, viruses and the body’s immune system are all factors that might cause psoriatic arthritis. Mickelson has been back on his professional golf game for several years, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.
Altru Advanced Orthopedics providers, Christopher Howson, DC, Jordan McIntyre, DC, Jeremy Gardner, MD, and Wade Olson, NP, participating in the Special Olympics North Dakota Golf Classic.
Many golfers are playing with pain, such as tendinitis, sore muscles and arthritis. Swinging a golf club requires moving at a very high speed in a short amount of time, increasing the risk of injury. We called on Dr. Jeremy Gardner of Altru Advanced Orthopedics to teach us where golfers are feeling the pain and how you can prevent it.
Golfing affects the entire body. Improper form can affect multiple joints, with special consideration for the lead wrist, elbow, shoulder, lower back, hips and knees. Swing alterations, such as a shorter backswing or proper weight shift, may decrease wear and tear on the body.
Keep in mind: it's important to properly stretch and warm up before and after a round to reduce pain and injury. Stretching and strengthening can help keep you healthy and improve your game.
Here are some other injury prevention tips for different body parts.
Next Steps If you've tried these techniques and are still experiencing pain, it might be time to visit Altru Advanced Orthopedics. Altru's experienced orthopedic providers can work with you to understand what's causing your pain, and how to fix it. This might include physical therapy, or it could be time to consider joint replacement.
Altru offers anterior approach hip replacement, which allows for a smaller incision and less damage to muscles, resulting in less pain and faster recovery. With proper recovery time and physical therapy, you can get back to the links sooner.
Golf is a great way to stay active. It’s beneficial for strength, balance, coordination and range of motion. If walking is a possibility, aerobic exercise improves the heart, lungs and muscles and helps with weight control, mood and sleep.
Dr. Jeremy Gardner is an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Health System. Board certified in orthopedic surgery, he specializes in joint replacement, including direct anterior approach to hip replacement, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff surgery and sports medicine. Outside the office, Dr. Gardner is an active golfer, runner and scuba diver. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and archery.
For the past six years, Randy Schroder of Minto, North Dakota, has been visiting Altru’s Urology Department for regular six-month check-ups. In 2011 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had tumors removed, and has been keeping a close eye on it ever since.
During a routine urology appointment in April of 2016, Randy had a different nurse than usual. Susan Bostad, RN, who is usually in procedural services, was filling in that day.
“She was so sincere,” explains Randy. “She asked me, ‘Randy, have you thought about having a colonoscopy done? I really care about the patients I work with.’ I had one years ago because of abdominal pain, but hadn’t considered it recently.”
Because of his history of bladder cancer, Randy’s risk was higher. He was over 50. Perhaps it was time for a routine screening?
Do I Really Need a Colonoscopy? Randy casually mentioned it to his wife on the drive home, and she set up an appointment. Two weeks later, he was getting a colonoscopy.
“The whole process felt like 10 minutes,” shares Randy. “Mid-way through the procedure, though, I remember my doctor gave the nurse a head nod, and I don’t remember a thing after that.”
“Flat colon polyps went unnoticed until 10 years ago,” explains Dr. Hack. “My former colleague at Stanford, Dr. Roy Soteikno, published a landmark article in March of 2008 about them. Flat polyps account for about 10 percent of all colon polyps. They are thought to have at least the same potential for developing into colon cancer as regular polyps, and in fact, some of them probably are more pre-cancerous.”
Dr. Hack continued, “Flat polyps are only visible by observing subtle changes in the lining of the colon. Sometimes, they are covered with a thin mucous-like layer which betrays their location. If you miss it, then you are at risk for colon cancer.”
Peace Out, Polyp Thanks to Dr. Hack’s trained eye, Randy’s flat polyp was quickly and painlessly removed before it turned into cancer.
“I use the technique called Endoscopic Mucosal Resection,” explains Dr. Hack. “This involves injecting a bubble of saline mixed with a blue dye, which lifts the polyp tissue away from the lining of the colon, allowing me to identify the border. I remove the polyp and secure the site with temporary clips which fall off after a few weeks. This allows the site to heal with low risk of bleeding.”
Randy is relieved Dr. Hack was skilled in recognizing this type of polyp and promptly removed it. “He said it was about the size of a quarter,” shares Randy. “He sent it off to be tested, and the results were benign. But, I looked it up online and found that if left untreated, it almost always turns to cancer.”
Randy’s future care plan involves an annual colonoscopy, and he regularly visits urology for check-ups.
“I saw nurse Sue again at my bladder check six months after having the flat polyp removed,” says Randy. “She was so happy to hear I had my colonoscopy done. Her encouragement might have saved my life.”
The 6’4” diesel mechanic thanked her and gave her a heartfelt hug.
“I can’t believe the difference she made. If I hit the lottery tomorrow, I’d give Sue a million dollars,” beams Randy. “She definitely prolonged my life.”
Do I really need to have a colonoscopy? What are the chances you’ll find something?
» Yes. While screenings for other cancers detect the presence of cancer, colonoscopy screenings can preventcolon cancer. During a colonoscopy, the physician is looking for polyps, small growths that over time can become cancer.
» If a polyp is found, the physician will remove it. In those over 50, polyps are found in approximately 25 percent of males and 15 percent of females, but are usually not cancerous. One in 20 adults will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. If caught early, colon cancer has a 90 percent cure rate.
» Colonoscopy is recommended beginning at age 50 and continuing until 75 years of age. People with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age, and may need to be tested more frequently.
» Most insurance plans and Medicare cover colorectal cancer screening for people who are age 50 or older. Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay. Consult your insurance provider for your specific coverage.
» Altru’s No-Cost Colonoscopy program offers financial assistance for eligible patients who are uninsured or underinsured. Funding is available from Altru Health Foundation, thanks to Altru’s Gala and grants from the North Dakota Department of Health. For more information, call 701.780.6533.
What does the colon prep liquid taste like? Why is it necessary to drink it prior to my colonoscopy?
» Patients have a choice when it comes to colon prep. GoLYTELY® is typically recommended as it has the best coverage from insurance. GoLYTELY® is mildly salty, but patients can mix lemonade or limeade flavor packets in to the liquid to make the flavor more enjoyable. The other two options – Prepopik and Miralax – aren’t covered as well by insurance, resulting in additional out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Prepopik tastes similar to sour orange cream candy. With Miralax, the taste is determined by the Gatorade flavor with which you mix the powder.
» It’s important to drink all of the colon prep to properly clean your colon. This helps to provide your physician with a clear view of your colon.
» Our doctors are experienced, board-certified and University-trained gastroenterologists. We follow the national guidelines for performance of the procedures, which assures the highest quality exams. We utilize a state-of-the-art facility with experienced nursing staff. Colonoscopies are performed differently for different issues in different patients, and thus need to be individualized.
» Endoscopic procedures performed by physicians with different training may not be able to provide the same ability to provide the quality of care. For example, identifying and removing large or "flat" polyps requires special training and experience which is available at Altru. Flat polyps were first identified at Stanford University in 2007. These flat polyps are more difficult to identify and appear to pose a higher risk for developing into colon cancers.
» Bowel preparation for colonoscopy refers to the laxatives taken before the procedure to clean the colon of fecal debris. A colonoscope is a long, flexible tube with a television camera on the tip. The camera cannot see through fecal debris. So any fecal debris left in the colon could obscure identification of a polyp or even a small cancer.
» Several studies have shown that fewer small and large polyps are detected in patients with less-than-optimal bowel preparation. And, poor preparation has several potential consequences during the procedure itself. First, your colonoscopy may last longer because the doctor will need to take time to clear out debris. Second, your doctor may lack confidence that the colon lining was seen adequately and may ask you to return for a subsequent screening earlier than would be otherwise recommended (say one year, rather than five or 10 years). This will subject you to increased costs and risk. Finally, if the preparation is very poor, the doctor may have to stop the procedure entirely, and you will need to reschedule.