Sunday, July 29, 2007

A variety this week...

This past week, I participated in a variety of activities. However, I mainly concentrated on completing my research project for the program. My project consists of removing motion artifacts from data acquired from a clinical study. This investigation involved a epiltptic patient who had suffered from seizures for more than 12 years. Anti-epileptic drugs were not effective and the patient's last resort was to have the epileptic tissue removed from her brain. Prior to the resection, the lab that I am working for wanted to study the effects of electrical stimulation on blood flow and hemoglobin concentration of epileptic tissue. To see changes in blood flow and hemoglobin concentration, we utilized the intrinsic optical signal. What this means is that at certain wavelengths, changes in absorption or reflection correlates to changes in blood flow and hemoglobin. In this case, 570nm and 610nm were used to observe changes in blood flow and hemoglobin, repspectively. In addition to the intrinsic optical signal, we also wanted to see the resultant electrical activity due to stimulation. In order to do so, my clinician placed two sets of surface electrodes, one for stimulation and one for recording resultant electrical activity. A footplate was placed above the elecrodes to help keep the brain in place, to reduce motion artifacts as much as possible. The tissue was stimulated at different frequencies (10, 50, 100 and 250 Hz) and at a constant charge. My job in this whole study is to remove motion artifacts seen in the optical data. I was mainly manpower for the project. The code was already written, but I was the poor subject who had to filter 34 sets of data. At this point I have completed all the sets and am going to get ready to analyze what the results mean. Ultimately, far down in time, I believe this would like to be a therapy for epileptic patients in order to help the damage tissue by reducing seizure activity. It is somewhat unclear to me at this point, but I will hopefully have it clarified in my last week here.

Outside the lab, I was able to observe a mastectomy with my homegirl Emily and my main man, Campolongo. The patient has cancer in her right breast and they were going to remove the breast tissue. I was amazed at how much tissue they took out. The next steps were to place an "expander" below here pectoral muscle for her future implant in a later surgery. Then within a couple months, she would have to undergo another surgery to have her nipple reconstructed. I had no idea that the whole process would take 3 operations. Another interesting procedure we got to see was how they determine what lymphnodes were more likely for infiltration. Apparently lymphnodes are most likely place for cancer to spread to. Prior to the surgery, a blue dye and a radio isotope is injected into the patient. I believe that is specific to the lymphnodes to areas surrounding the breast tissue. The blue dye is used to help the clinician find them. The radio isotope is used to determine how "hot" they are. From what I got, the hotter they are implies that they are more vascularized and more prone for cancer infiltration. However, the reading has no indication on whether the cancer has metastasized or not.

Next week I plan on joining Dr. Frayer and my main man Campolongo to observe little babies. Giddy up! Till then, I say "Good day!"

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