Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Cardiothoracic surgery

Photo by akeg.

This week at the collaborative science blog Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, my brother Jon, a third-year med school student, describes his experiences helping out with open-heart surgery:

I stood on the other side, holding the still-beating heart out of the way. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the calm at which they did this, as if this were a perfectly normal and ordinary thing to do. Then, once all the lines were in place, a clamp was placed on the aorta, completely isolating the heart from the circulation of blood in the rest of the body. At this point, the heart is cooled down with ice and infused with a solution that arrests it in the phase of contraction called diastole. This is when the timer starts: From this point on the surgeon can operate for up several hours without any damage occurring to the heart.

For all the (not actually very gory) details, go read the whole thing. ◼

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense: Treating depersonalization disorder

Barnacles. Photo by JustCallMe_Bethy.

This week at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, my brother Jonathan Yoder—a third-year medical student—makes his science blogging debut with a post on the treatments available for depersonalization disorder, a condition in which patients feel disconnected from their own bodies.

There are currently no definitive treatments that have been developed regarding DPD. This is due largely to the fact that there is no well-defined pathology regarding its onset. Given its estimated prevalence of 0.8-2.0% in the general population, it is about as widespread as schizophrenia. Yet little research has been done to understand its root cause and treatment.

Jon’s post is a view inside evidence-based medicine, in which a physician weighs peer-reviewed scientific results to decide on a treatment strategy. Go read the whole thing. ◼