July 8, 2014

100 Doctors Identify the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2014

One hundred top experts at the Cleveland Clinic – professionals who care for patients every day – answered this question: What medical innovations will reshape healthcare in 2014? As reported on the website What Doctors Know, here are their top ten answers.

#10:  Targeted Cancer Therapy
About 4,400 Americans die each year from lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This year, doctors expect the FDA to approve ibrutinib, the first in-class oral drug available to treat CLL. Clinical trials were promising for the new drug, which targets cancerous cells without compromising a patient’s immune system.

#9:  Heart Risk Screened through the Gut
Researchers believe they have a new tool to predict risk for heart attack, stroke, and death: trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). When bacteria in the stomach digest choline -- a substance found in red meat, egg yolks, and dairy products  – the body produces TMAO. Choline is thought to promote hardening of the arteries. This means doctors have a new bio-marker to look for – TMAO – when assessing risk for heart attack, stroke, and death.   

#8:  Personal Sedation Station
Unless you choose to remain awake and alert during a colonoscopy, an anesthesiologist administers a drug like Propofol -- the one that Michael Jackson abused -- to put you under. Now there is new, personalized “sedation station” technology that enables healthcare pros OTHER than anesthesiologists to administer light sedation for life-saving colonoscopies. Here’s the main benefit: this new technology could reduce the national healthcare bill for this one important procedure by about $1 billion every year.

 #7:  Hope for Acute Heart Failure
Last year, the FDA described synthetic hormone serelaxin a “breakthrough.” Now, there’s hope it will begin reducing the number of deaths from heart failure, which accounts for about 55,000 deaths in America every year. Test results have been impressive: six months after patients experienced acute heart failure, those treated with serelaxin were 38 percent less likely to die than those who received the standard therapy.

#6:  Fecal Transplant Restores Balance
To restore proper bacterial balance, doctors are transferring a liquid suspension of a healthy person’s fecal matter into a sick person’s colon. “Fecal microbiota transplantation” shows real promise to treat the difficult and deadly C. diff infection and inflammatory bowel disease.

#5:  Decision Support for Smarter Surgery
A new anesthesia management system records everything that happens in the operating room before, during, and after surgery. Inspired by jet aircraft technology, this system also provides a critical “alert system” that gives doctors a real-time heads-up when problems arise. Doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists can now make smarter decisions in the operating room.

#4:  Breakthrough for Hepatitis C
The drug sofobuvir (Sovaldi) promises new hope for people with hepatitis C. It’s the first all-oral therapy for the difficult disease, and has delivered the highest-ever cure rates, fewer side effects, and shorter treatment time. Three years ago, two other new drugs – telaprevir  and boceprevir -- made the top 100 list for their promise in treating hepatitis C. Sofobuvir now significantly expands treatment options.

#3:  Device Disrupts Seizures
For people with intractable epilepsy – in which seizures cannot be controlled by any other treatments – this new surgically implanted neurological device offers life-changing hope. When it detects the triggers of an impending seizure, it delivers short electrical pulses to interrupt the episode before it starts.

#2:  Genomic Tests for Managing Cancer
Genomic tests evaluate the genes in a patient’s tumor to predict how that tumor will behave. So far, the technology has improved management of breast and colorectal cancers. In 2013, the FDA approved a new, similar test for prostate cancer. Why are these tests so important? They can help people avoid aggressive treatments when they’re not necessary, and save lives when those treatments are needed.

#1:  The Bionic Eye Becomes Reality
A new technology with a retinal prosthesis – the “bionic eye” – promises to make a big difference for people with late-stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a disease that has rendered most patients legally blind by age 40. The bionic eye can’t fully restore sight. But it enables patients to detect light and dark, and to identify the location and movement of people and objects – a giant quality-of-life improvement for people with RP.

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