Robotic breast reconstruction • Cancer remission • Virtual reality & opioids

Penn News Service

• Robotic breast reconstruction

   A robot makes it possible for breast reconstruction surgery to be less invasive and less painful. Women who undergo a mastectomy to remove cancerous tissue or as a preventive measure because of a heightened genetic risk of breast cancer may choose reconstructive surgery. One option is to use their own tissue for the reconstruction, which can achieve a more natural appearance and is a more permanent solution compared with implant-based reconstructive surgeries. Now, surgeons from the University of Pennsylvania are the first in the world to use a surgical robot to assist with a bilateral free flap breast reconstruction, a procedure in which tissue is taken from the lower abdomen, similar to a “tummy tuck,” and used to rebuild the breast. The technique enables surgeons to make a much smaller incision into the abdominal wall muscles, allowing patients to recover and be discharged more quickly and without the use of addictive narcotic painkillers. (EDITORS: Additional information)

• Cancer remission

  Updated data from an international trial led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center shows CAR T cell therapy can lead to long-lasting remission in patients with a certain type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The study found the therapy can be life-saving for patients in whom previous therapies have failed. Earlier results from this trial led to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Commission, Health Canada, and Swissmedic. (EDITORS: Additional information)

• Virtual reality & opioids

To address the opioid crisis, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing and Annenberg School for Communication have created a seven-minute virtual reality Narcan training session that a recent pilot study showed was as effective as in-person simulation training for health care providers. The FDA-approved nasal spray can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in less than five minutes. It’s available without a prescription, carried by most major pharmacy chains, and covered by many different types of insurance. But most people don’t know about it or, if they do, they’re unfamiliar with how to use it or what to do after it’s administered. With this new tool, the Penn researchers hope to change that.

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