Being a doctor involves mastering a great deal of information. A doctor has to know biology, chemistry, physiology and how medications and surgeries affect the body.
But a doctor also has to be able to take that knowledge and apply it practically to real people and situations. He has to learn how to diagnose patients, make decisions about treatment and troubleshoot when a disease doesn’t follow the textbook.
Columbia neurosurgeon Dr. Sameer Sheth focused on these more practical aspects of medicine at the recent scientific meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), where he helped direct a practical clinic on deep brain stimulation (DBS).
Dr. Sheth is well known for his pioneering work using DBS to treat both movement disorders, such as Parkinson disease, and psychiatric problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. DBS allows Dr. Sheth to treat the symptoms of these disorders at their source, in the brain. He does this by implanting tiny electrodes in carefully targeted places. These electrodes stimulate the brain’s activity in that spot, which can relieve disruptive symptoms.
DBS is a delicate and complex operation. It’s used only for appropriately chosen patients and in collaboration with other specialists. The operation itself takes a great deal of knowledge and skill, but so does evaluating a patient to see if he or she is a good candidate for DBS.
At the AANS seminar Dr. Sheth presented real-life patient case scenarios for his colleagues to analyze so they could practice the kind of practical decision-making skills they’ll need when managing a case. He helped guide them through ways to evaluate a patient for DBS surgery, and how to make decisions about anything unexpected that might crop up during a procedure.
The seminar was a fantastic opportunity for neurosurgeons to work through possible scenarios and learn from one another how to turn theory into practice.
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