Medical Center at Princeton: Advances in diagnostic techniques

Medical Center at Princeton: Advances in diagnostic techniques

While the financing of healthcare has received all of the attention recently, the real story in healthcare is the advances available at the community level for a wide range of diagnostic techniques, diseases and disabilities.

As a community teaching hospital, The Medical Center at Princeton is in the unique position to bring diagnostic and therapeutic technology to community in a cost effective manner.

For example, the diagnosis and treatment of cancer has changed dramatically in recent years. Many of these changes are designed to increase safety and comfort for patients while decreasing the time needed for accurate diagnosis.

For women, advances such as stereotactic breast biopsy offer fast and accurate evaluations of suspicious lumps. The stereotactic beast biopsy unit is a piece of radiology equipment that can pinpoint a lump or lesion within the breast using views from several angles to provide the exact location of the lesion. This information is transmitted electronically to a spring loaded biopsy needle which withdraws a precise sample of the suspicious tissue. This small tissue sample is then evaluated by the pathologist and results are available within hours.

The stereotactic breast biopsy unit offers women a fast and much less invasive diagnosis. Any woman who has ever awaited the results of an invasive breast biopsy knows the anxiety and stress that one feels as the wait for surgery and, after surgery, for results drags on. By reducing the time from mammogram to biopsy to results, women can be assured of accurate results quickly.

For women who are seeking their regularly scheduled mammogram, the Medical ‘Center has recently opened a new mammography suite with state of the art equipment and education. Videos describing mammography and its benefits are available in the education room where patients can view them in privacy and comfort.

The consistent use of new drugs in the treatment of cancer has also brought significant relief to patients here at Princeton. In radiation therapy, the use of Strontium 89 has been very important in pain reduction for patients, particularly advanced prostate cancer patients, with wide spread disease. Strontium 89 is a radioactive isotope that spreads throughout the body seeking cancerous lesions and reducing their size. By shrinking the lesions, pain is reduced and patients can be more comfortable.

At the cutting edge of clinical trials of cancer drugs, oncologists at the Medical Center have worked with Rhone-Poulenc Rohr on the development of Taxotere, a new drug for the treatment of breast cancer. This drug has been given to patients at Princeton as part of the clinical trials, prior to final approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Michael Kane has seen good results for a number of patients who have participated in the Taxotere trials. As a clinical researcher in oncology drugs, Dr. Kane can bring his patients the very latest pharmaceuticals in a local, community setting.

While advances in cancer care and treatment are often the most dramatic, advances and changes in the treatment for other patients at the Medical Center is equally significant.

For the cardiac patient, the Medical Center is seeking to bring diagnostic cardiac catheterization to Princeton. Cardiac catheterization is a service that is closely regulated by the State of New Jersey, and one which the state has recently opened to more hospitals. Princeton has applied to provide this service to our patients at every opportunity, primarily because patients must now travel to New Brunswick, Philadelphia or New York for catheterizations. Patients and families who are already anxious about their condition are forced to add a significant waiting time and distance to the burdens of their illness. With a catheterization lab in Princeton, these added inconveniences will be mitigated.

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure by which a thin tube or catheter is inserted in a vein and moved up to the heart veins.

A dye is injected through the catheter and x-ray images are made of the arteries and veins within the heart. This information tells the cardiologists where and if any of the heart structure is blocked or injured (because of a heart attack). With this information, the cardiologist can recommend appropriate treatment and start the cardiac patient on the road to recovery.

With the initiation of cardiac catheterization late in 1996, invasive cardiologists on staff at the Medical Center will be able to perform catheterization locally rather than in see their patients travel out of town or even out of the state.

While new medications and equipment are interesting and exciting, for many of us the treatments we require are far more simple and personal. Behavioral health services have changed dramatically in the face of managed care and Princeton House has been at the forefront of anticipating and responding to those changes. Services for psychiatric and addictive illnesses have moved from an inpatient setting to an outpatient setting in all but the most severe cases. The staff of Princeton House has developed a full range of programs to care for patients as outpatients and maintain the quality and service that patients deserve. New programs at Princeton House include a day hospital program for adults and several outpatient programs for adolescents. Princeton House now offers these outpatient programs in Princeton, Hamilton, and Monroe townships.

For other patients, the Home Care Department offers the care they need in the privacy of their homes. Home Care is a rapidly growing service as patients move out of the hospital earlier and convalesce at home. The Home Care Department brings nursing care, physical therapy, social work, homemakers and home health aides as needed by patients to their home. This year, the Home Care Department has opened a private duty service which offers nursing, homemaker and home health aide services to patients and families without the constraints of health insurance programs. As many families have learned, the home health care benefits under Medicare and private insurance plans are often far less than patients need. The private duty agency is designed to continue that service in a cost effective manner.

As the challenges of maintaining quality and access for patients in a managed care environment continue, The Medical Center at Princeton is in a unique position to offer patients all of the services they might require along the continuum of health care within one institution.

Copyright Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Jul 01, 1996

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