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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today's Globe: obesity surgery, heart risk, rotavirus vaccine, bird flu outbreaks

Tufts Health Plan next month will start denying gastric-bypass and stomach-banding procedures to some obese patients and require others to enter a yearlong diet and counseling program before undergoing the potentially lifesaving surgery.

Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital allowed former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to bleed internally for 30 hours after a gastric bypass operation, bringing Weis to the brink of death and leaving him with permanent nerve damage in his right foot, Weis's lawyer said yesterday. The surgeons' lawyer said that Weis's internal bleeding, while unfortunate, is not unusual for this type of surgery, in which 5 percent to 10 percent of patients have serious complications and 1 out of 100 dies.

Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers say that a risk-scoring system they developed -- which adds two new risk factors, family history and a measure of inflammation -- does a better job of classifying some women's heart-disease risk.

A vaccine against rotavirus, which is the top cause of early childhood diarrhea, is possibly tied to intestinal blockage, a condition that can also occur spontanteosly.

Most of the scattered bird flu outbreaks so far this year probably can be traced to illegal or improper trade in poultry, scientists say. That includes recent outbreaks in Nigeria and Egypt as well as the large outbreak on a turkey farm in England.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:32 AM
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