How does having a port affect my daily life?

Baird Cancer Treatment Port

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment. That makes care easier — and your life easier.

Once you have a port, you may wonder how it will affect your day to day activities. We spoke with Richard Williams, RN, BSN, OCN at Baird Vascular Institute, who said to think of it as you would any medical procedure, “For the first few days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities.” Williams continued, “There are folks who like to hunt, or play tennis, or even have a job like a hairdresser where their arms move up and down frequently, for those folks we tell them they need to give the site a chance to heal, to let the skin start coming together and heal.”

Williams added, “We do ask people about their lifestyle and take that into consideration when placing the port. We can put the port on a different side if needed. All these things are discussed with the patient because we know they’re going to have this port for awhile.”

You can even travel with a port. Williams added, “If you do go through an airport scanner, it shouldn’t go off because there’s not metal in the port, but you can pull out a card that we’ll give you and show the agent what the ‘bump’ is in your scan.”

If you’d like to learn more about port and the procedure, we have a whole series of YouTube videos on the topic.

We’ll work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation. Give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

Why you should talk to your doctor about PAD

PAD, or peripheral artery disease, affects about 8 million Americans. It can start as early as the age of 20, and becomes more common as one gets older. By age 65, about 12 to 20 percent of the population has some degree of vascular disease. Early diagnosis is critical, as people with PAD have a four to five times higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, PAD often goes undiagnosed as symptoms are often mistaken for something else.

So how do you know if you’re at risk for PAD? “Unfortunately, with PAD, sometimes there are factors that the patient can control and sometimes not. Sometimes it runs in the family and your risk factors are genetic,” said Dr. Jeffrey Elbich. “Other risk factors include advanced age, male gender, smoking, especially those with a long smoking history, and people with other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension.”

Dr. Elbich explained some symptoms to watch out for. “A typical patient will describe walking for a few block and being affected by sudden painful cramps in the legs and thighs that resolve after a period of rest.” He continued, “For every one person who has symptoms, there are three to four who have no symptoms at all. If you have some of the risk factors we just mentioned, it’s important to talk to your doctor and be screened.”

The screening involves a review of the patient’s medical history and any symptoms, followed by a physical exam. “You physician will preform an ABI, or ankle brachial index which measures the blood pressure in your arms, compared to the blood pressure in your ankles,” said Dr. Elbich. “If it’s significantly different, that indicates a blockage in your legs and is indicative of PAD.”

Many peripheral vascular conditions can be diagnosed and treated on an outpatient basis by the interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons here at VCU Baird Vascular Institute. If you want to learn more about peripheral artery disease and treatment options, wish to discuss symptoms or problems you may be experiencing or if your doctor has recommended that you see us for a vascular test, please contact us at (804) 828-2600.

3 nonsurgical ways to cover unsightly leg veins

Baird cover spider veins

Warm weather is here, and with it comes shorter hemlines, lighter fabrics and more skin showing. Unfortunately, 20 percent of all adults, and 50 percent of adults over 50, experience varicose veins, predominantly women. If the unsightly veins on your legs embarrass you, there are a few natural remedies to help.

Makeup. Today, there are a number of high-quality makeup formulas designed to temporarily hide significant skin imperfections. These long lasting products can cover a variety of discolorations and irregularities such as scars, birthmarks, veins and even tattoos. Even your own makeup concealer can be used to cover small areas, but if you have larger areas to cover, there are products for that as well.

Self-tanners. We’ve talked about minimizing skin cancer risks here in the past, so we’re already big fans of any sunless tanning options. But did you know that sunless tanning products can also minimize the appearance of varicose and spider veins? Self-tanning creams and lotions can help cover scars and light veins, and even make skin dimples, cellulite and protruding veins less conspicuous. The bronzing reflects light and evens the overall skin tone and greatly improves appearance. Besides, who doesn’t love a little tan color for those summer picnics and events?

Stockings. Even though stockings are not the first option that comes to mind when you think of summer, you might want to think again. Today’s compression stockings offer a multitude of cute and fashionable options to wear with shorts and skirts. They look like regular knee-high socks, but offer coverage of any discolored or protruding leg veins, as well as the added benefits of compression for pain relief, improved circulation and slowing the progression of vein irregularity.

However, if you’re just simply tired of trying to find new ways to camouflage your embarrassing leg veins, give us a call and let’s see what we can do for you. Our vascular specialists are experts in evaluating and treating varicose veins, from unsightly spider veins using new, gentle and highly effective treatments to the relief of more serious, painful and even dangerous major varicose veins. Our vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists work hand in hand to treat patients with varicose using today’s most advanced technology and procedures, with your treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

3 Famous Athletes Who Have Dealt With Plantar Fasciitis Issues.

BVI celebrity atheletes

Celebrity athletes – they’re just like us! Well, in some ways. Even with their glamorous high-profile lifestyles, famous athletes can be sidelined by everyday ailments just like all of us. Here are 3 recognizable names that have dealt with the symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Quarterback Eli Manning was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in 2009. With rest and rehabilitation, Eli is still in the game today.

Way back in 2001, Shaquille O’Neal, an NBA MVP, missed that year’s All-Star game due to a strained foot. Shaq’s size 21 shoe took quite a beating on the hardwoods, but again, with time and rehab, was able to maintain his game for another 10 years before retiring in 2011.

Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls continued to play despite the pain through the NBA playoffs in 2013, but admitted “It feels like you have needles underneath your feet while you’re playing.”

At VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute, we’ve been helping patients overcome the pain and frustration of plantar fasciitis with a non-invasive procedure called image-guided tendon treatment. Whether you’re a famous athlete, or an infamous slow jogger, we can help relieve the pain and get you back to the top of your game.

Why a port is a good idea

VCU Health Baird Port

From needle sticks and blood draws, from injections to IVs, everybody has had their shots. Usually, a pinch is all there is to it. But many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment.

We talked to VCU Baird Institute’s Dr. Shep Morano about why someone might need a port.

“A port is a safe, reliable and low maintenance way to access a patient’s bloodstream,” said Dr. Morano. “Sometimes a port is recommended for patients who have used up all their peripheral veins, or doctors or nurses are having difficulty accessing their veins.”

Placing a semi-permanent catheter such as a “port-a-cath,” chemotherapy port or IV access port into a large vein in the upper arm or neck can make treatment easier for patients undergoing treatments that require frequent or constant vein access.

  • Chemotherapy or anti-cancer drug infusions
  • Hemodialysis
  • Long-term intravenous antibiotic treatment
  • Long-term intravenous feeding
  • Repeated drawing of blood samples

These ports can remain in place for several weeks or months and can help patients in many ways:

  • Fewer needle sticks to draw blood
  • Multiple IV lines accessible at one site
  • Lowered risk by reduced leakage, which is particularly important with chemotherapy agents that can cause tissue or muscle damage if they leak

Dr. Morano added, “The benefits of added safety, patient comfort, infection control, and ease of access make ports a great option for someone who needs long term central venous access.”

There are several types of long-term IV ports, the most well-known is the Port-a-cath. Unlike most other types of catheters, a port-a-cath is implanted completely underneath the skin. This type of port allows you to bathe and swim without the risk of infection. Port-a-caths can remain in place for months or even years.

A peripherally inserted central catheters or PICC line is inserted into one of the large veins in the arm near the elbow. PICC lines are generally used for shorter periods (one to six weeks) and are easier to remove.

These types of catheters, such as a Central line, tunneled venous catheters or Hickman catheters, are inserted into a large vein under the collarbone or in the neck and leave the body through a separate exit point, usually the upper chest. A “cuff” secures the line, providing protection from infection and holding the catheter in place as your body heals around it.

We work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation.

 

 

Useful Apps for Cancer Patients

Baird Apps Cancer

Modern technology can be an amazing tool to help with our daily lives. Today, even cancer patients can find a variety of useful apps to assist in their treatment and recovery by monitoring symptoms, storing data, providing information and support. Of course, nothing can or should take the place of your physician and care team’s advice, but here are a few apps that may help keep and organize your data and assist in other ways as you navigate the course of your illness.

Cancer.net Mobile

Developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), this app provides easy-to-use tools to help you plan and manage care – from diagnosis through treatment and beyond, and is provided by Cancer.Net. It includes the latest oncologist-approved cancer information.

Pocket Cancer Care Guide

Provided by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the Pocket Cancer Care Guide is an app that allows you to quickly and easily build lists of practical questions used to guide conversations between you and your doctors and nurses. Users can browse hundreds of questions in categories relevant to stages of your cancer diagnosis, build lists of questions to use when talking to your doctor or nurse, link doctor appointments to your lists and automatically add it to your calendar and record and playback your doctor’s or nurse’s answers. There’s also a glossary of medical terms for reference.

My Cancer Coach

This app, by Genomic Health, Inc., is a free mobile app developed in partnership with BreastCancer.org, Men’s Health Network, and Fight Colorectal Cancer. The app provides specific information about personalized cancer treatments to help manage your cancer’s progression. It’s like having ‘Cancer 101’ in your pocket. Questions about your stage of cancer? Should you get surgery? Is radiation necessary? Do you need chemotherapy? Is your cancer metastatic? My Cancer Coach provides easy-to-understand treatment information for breast, prostate, and colon cancer patients and their caregivers.

Create To Heal

This app is brought to you by The Women Wings Foundation Create to Heal (TM) program. It is designed to gently take you from your head into your heart, where the healing process begins. Because stress is the number one contributor to all major diseases, including cancer, the goal of this app is to provide patients with relief from stress through the use of beautiful imagery, sounds and words.

The Create to Heal (TM) guided meditations, music and art have been tested in several hospitals and cancer centers over a period of 5 years, with hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and their families. This app gives patients the tools to continue their creative therapy and stress reduction at home, at work, wherever they are. The app offers 10 music tracks, 4 guided meditations, 36 pieces of art, and 60+ inspirational messages.

My Medical

My Medical is a comprehensive record-keeping app for your personal medical information. The app offers autocompletion and autosuggestion for a wealth of medical jargon, including prescription drug names; vaccinations; common afflictions; life support options; laboratory units; and much more.

In addition, there are areas for emergency contacts, health insurance, doctors’ contact information, and other data that are not strictly part of a traditional personal health record (PHR) are all available. It will put doctor’s appointments and upcoming lab tests on your calendar. You can even set reminder alarms directly from the app, without ever going into your calendar. Finally, the app offers an area for files to be attached to your record. For example, you can add a picture of the pill next to a medication, or a copy of your insurance card alongside a provider’s contact information.

iHealth Log

iHealth Log helps individuals with chronic health issues manage their disease.  All medications and dosages are easily maintained along with important prescription details including a photograph of the medication and physician and pharmacy information.  The diary tracks daily medications and measurements which are critical to disease management.  iHealth Log makes it easy to email lists of medications to schools, summer camps and health care providers and it has reporting capabilities to plot measurement data and send this data via email to the physician.

Patient Follow up – Colleen Mescall

We talked to Colleen Mescall in November of 2015 about her recent image guided tendon treatment to relieve her foot pain. You may remember this video.

We recently caught up with Colleen to ask her how she’s doing today, and how the treatment has made a difference in her life.

How has your activity level changed since having image guided tendon treatment at VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute? Before, my feet hurt all the time – walking, standing, or getting up from sitting they hurt; I did not really like to walk or stand for a long period, but now I can take walks, go sightseeing ,etc. without having pain or discomfort.

How long did it take you to feel fully recovered? Within 6 months of having both feet done, I noticed I could get out of bed in the morning without the painful first few steps, and now, when walking for long periods, I no longer have any discomfort.

How has your life changed since having the treatment? I am more inclined to go for walks or stand when I teach a class, I have joined a gym and take classes and I can wear heels again (that’s one of the best parts).

Would you have the surgery again if needed? I hope to not have it again, but if I had to do it again I most definitely would.

Would you recommend this treatment to others? Absolutely! And I have recommended it to others.

We’re so glad that Colleen is back in her cute shoes and feeling fantastic. You may be wondering, “Is image-guided treatment right for me?” If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss whether image-guided treatment is the right option for you.