Q&A – Spring 2015


Have a question for our doctors? Email us, and we may address your query in a future issue.

Are there nonsurgical options for carpal tunnel syndrome?

"If patients present early enough and have mild symptoms, we first try to treat carpal tunnel without surgery. The most effective treatment is to wear a wrist brace or splint at night. It keeps the wrist in a neutral position and prevents flexing or extending the wrist, which can put pressure on the nerve. Wearing a splint can reduce the symptoms, and some patients won't need surgery at all. If surgery is required, however, carpal tunnel can now be treated in a minimally invasive way. We use a very small incision, insert a camera into the carpal tunnel, and release the nerve. Doing it that way substantially reduces the discomfort after surgery, and patients return to work and activities sooner than with other carpal tunnel procedures."

Douglas Sammer, M.D.
Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery

How does pregnancy affect a normal heart?

"The most notable change is that blood volume – the amount of blood you have – increases by almost 50 percent during pregnancy. The heart has to accommodate all that extra volume, so it increases the amount it pumps out and increases its chamber sizes in order to accommodate this increased blood supply. Blood pressure actually decreases during pregnancy to allow for improved circulation of blood volume. All these changes happen in order to maximize flow to the uterus and provide enough blood flow for the growing fetus."

Monika Sanghavi, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Why is thyroid cancer more common in women?

"There have been quite a few studies, but we still don't have the answer. We think that certain hormonal differences make the thyroid cells proliferate more rapidly, and higher proliferation rates increase the risk of developing cancer. For instance, some studies show that female hormones such as estrogen cause thyroid cells to grow and divide faster. But there are other factors involved as well, and we're still exploring those. Additionally, although this is not unique to women, there is some evidence that people with an iodine deficiency have a slightly higher risk of follicular thyroid cancer."

Fiemu Nwarlaku, M.D.
Professor of Surgery