Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Some time ago, a man wearing jeans, cowboy boots and a hoodie drove a dirty Ford Explorer into a carwash in Fort Worth, Texas. As soon as the car came back clean, he got it filthy again, and drove to the next carwash. He did this with every single full-service carwash in town.

The man wasn't suffering from a strange mental disorder; Patrick Kinkade was a criminologist conducting an experiment.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

PART 2 OF A KERA NEWS SERIES: Imagine heading into surgery. Instead of a doctor’s soothing voice, you hear the whirs and beeps of R2D2. OK, so Star Wars droids aren’t holding the scalpel, but robotic techniques are radically changing the world of medicine. And North Texas hospitals are harnessing the power of robots.

stilldavid / flickr.com

Scrub nurses straight out of The Jetsons, telecommuting surgeons and other medical advances driven by robotic technology -- here's what's on the horizon for robotic surgery.

BJ Austin / KERA News

A NEW KERA NEWS SERIES: Proton beam ray-guns were the stuff of scientists and sci-fi writers in the '50s. But, they never left the lab or the movies. Later, President Reagan revived the idea in his "Star Wars" missile defense initiative. Still, no one really harnessed this atomic age technology until doctors deployed it and made proton therapy a battlefield breakthrough in the war on cancer.

ProCure Proton Therapy Centers

Two North Texas proton therapy centers are in the planning stages over the next few years -- one at UT Southwestern in Dallas and a second in Las Colinas, which is a joint effort of Baylor Health Enterprises, Texas Oncology and McKesson Specialty Health Network.

So what sets proton therapy apart? And how are the North Texas centers pushing the technology envelope? Two doctors, Scott Cheek of the Las Colinas project and Timothy Solberg of UT Southwestern, point out five key factors:

The population explosion in North Texas’ has brought a growing number of children without health insurance, and some of the counties affected come as a surprise.

Medical City

An alternative for patients who can’t survive open heart surgery replaces the aortic valve without opening the chest or heart. Medical City recently became the first in the country to perform the procedure, just days after it received FDA approval. 

Texas put its new, state-funded Women’s Health Program on hold today, just hours before the retooled program was set to launch. And that means Planned Parenthood will continue getting state money to provide health care to women -- at least for the moment.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

At the annual meeting for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in Dallas, the last thing you expect to see is Mardi gras beads.

But there they are, each color signifying something; like a cancer diagnosis or a preventative surgery. Some women wear one strand; others wear several.

Most of the women here have a mutation in the gene labeled BRCA1 or BRCA2. That means a shockingly high lifetime risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.

Lyndsay / KERA News

I’m 30 years old and I’m on an Aspirin regimen. I have to get a colonoscopy, endometrial biopsy, CA-125 blood test, several ultrasounds and a full skin check pretty much every year.

kcheakthandwellness.com

When you go in for a mammogram, you now have a choice to make. Approved last year by the Food and Drug Administration, a 3-D mammogram is touted as a more accurate check for breast cancer. But it’s also more expensive. In a KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Jim Schroeder, a radiologist at Lake Pointe Breast Center in Rockwall, compares the two choices – beginning with the usual mammogram.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. The drug tPA has been pretty effective at dissolving blood clots that can lead to stroke. But that's only if given within three hours and if the clot isn’t large. The Food and Drug Administration this year approved two mechanical devices doctors can use beyond the three hour window to remove large clots from the brain. In a KERA Health Checkup, Dr.

The deadliest West Nile season in North Texas is coming to an end. In Tarrant County, environmental health manager David Jefferson says the numbers of human cases and infected mosquitoes have dropped significantly.

Two more West Nile deaths are reported in North Texas.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">shutterstock.com</a>

You might think your home is safe for a small child. But you’d be surprised at the dangers to children lurking inside. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

The most common chronic childhood disease is almost invisible. You don’t see it like the chicken pox, or hear it like a sneeze. It’s tooth decay.

Paul Huljich had it all. His organic foods business brought him wealth and luxury. But he lost it all after a nervous breakdown and a bipolar diagnosis.

Tim Baker / flickr

More than 1200 uninsured people have scheduled appointments for Saturday’s Dallas CARE Clinic. Organizers hope that first visit is just the beginning for those without coverage.

Up-Rising / Flickr.com

Results of a new study of nearly six thousand men with prostate cancer indicate those treated either with surgery or radiation could benefit from taking aspirin regularly. In a KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talks with Dr. Kevin Choe of U.T. Southwestern Medical Center about the study.

MedicineNet.com

Like the U.S. overall, Texas is seeing more cases of pertussis or whooping cough – nearly 1100 people have come down with it this year. Six have died. 

Dynamic Aviation King Air

The North Texas Poison Control Center says its hotline has received very few calls about health problems following aerial spraying for mosquitoes.

Doctors at Heart Hospital in Plano have combined two technologies in a new approach to treating atrial fibrillation. It’s the most common form of irregular heart beat and affects three to five million Americans. Dr. J. Brian DeVille talked about this in a KERA Health Checkup.

AJ Cann / (cc) flickr

The state of Texas is warning about an increase in whooping cough, or pertussis. Six deaths are reported so far this year, the most since 2005.

crmgucd / Flickr.com

In this KERA Health Checkup, a refresher course on cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. Two years ago, guidelines for the procedure changed to put emphasis on chest compressions. Doreen Riccelli of Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett explains.

Tim Baker / flickr

Some North Texas hospitals will lose Medicare money starting in October. They’re being penalized because certain elderly patients were readmitted to the hospital soon after being discharged.  

surroundsound5000 / (cc) flickr

The idea of counties expanding Medicaid with the Affordable Care Act is getting some traction in North Texas. Governor Perry has said the state won’t do it.

Dynamic Aviation King Air

It appears aerial mosquito spraying over Dallas worked. City officials say there were no West Nile infected mosquitoes in a small sample of traps retrieved afterwards. That’s good preliminary news, but Dallas City Council members want better planning for next year’s West Nile virus season.

As student athletes begin a new school year, players, staff and parents need to be mindful of staph infections.  They’re the result of bacteria we all have on our skin and in nasal passages. But the director of primary care sports medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says contact sports raise the potential for an infection. Dr. Robert Dimeff explains in this KERA Health Checkup.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control are in Texas this week trying to figure out why West Nile Virus is so prevalent in the Lone Star State.

The Centers for Disease Control put North Texas at the center of a national conference call on West Nile Virus. While Dallas, Fort Worth is clearly the most infected area in the country… the reason why, is not so clear.

Pages