Cleveland Clinic names top ten medical innovations for 2009

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A panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists selected a top ten list of breakthrough devices and therapies, which were unveiled during Cleveland Clinic's 2008 Medical Innovation Summit this week.

The innovations touch on avian influenza, EMRs and minimally invasive surgeries to treat uterine fibroids, to repair heart valves and to remove organs throughout the body.
The organization selected the following items as its top-ten medical innovations for 2009:

1. Use of Circulating Tumor Cell Technology: A blood test that measures circulating tumor cells - cancer cells that have broken away from an existing tumor and entered the bloodstream - has the ability to detect recurrent cancer sooner, while also predicting how well treatment is working and the patient's probable outcome.  

2. Warm Organ Perfusion Device: The device, though, recreates conditions within the body to keep the heart pumping for up to 12 hours.

3. Diaphragm Pacing System: Four electrodes are connected to the phrenic nerves on the diaphragm. Wires from the electrodes run to and from a control box about the size of two decks of playing cards worn outside the body. When the electrodes are stimulated by current, the diaphragm contracts and air is sucked into the lungs. When not stimulated, the diaphragm relaxes and air moves out of the lungs.

4. Multi-Spectral Imaging Systems: The imaging system is attached to a standard microscope, where researchers can stain up to four proteins using different colors and look at tissue samples with 10 to 30 different wavelengths. It may help researchers to understand signaling pathways in cancer cells and develop more targeted therapies.

5. Percutaneous Mitral Valve Regurgitation Repair: Using a tiny barbed, wishbone-shaped device, the heart is fixed non-surgically from the inside out. A catheter is guided through the femoral vein in the groin, up to the heart's mitral valves. The clip on the tip of a catheter is clamped on the center of the valve leaflets, which holds them together and helps restore normal blood flow out through the leaflets.

6. New Strategies for Creating Vaccines for Avian Flu: A newer vaccine approach that uses a mock version of the bird virus called a virus-like particle may offer a better solution to protect people against infection from the deadly avian virus.

7. LESS and NOTES Applications: LESS (laparoendoscopic single-site surgery) reduces the process to a small cut in the belly button. NOTES (natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery) allows surgeons to access an appendix, prostate, kidney or gallbladder through one of the body's natural cavities, such as the mouth, vagina or colon.

8. Integration of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (Tractography): Diffusion tensor imaging is the new technology that allows neuroscientists to non-invasively probe the long-neglected half of the brain called white matter, with its densely packed collection of intertwining insulated projections of neurons that join all four of the brain's lobes.

9. Doppler-Guided Uterine Artery Occlusion (DUAO): A new, non-invasive approach to treat fibroids called Doppler-guided uterine artery occlusion.

10. Private Sector National Health Information Exchange: A system of EHRs that links consumers, general practitioners, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes and insurance companies is in the process of being established. Primarily a private-sector effort, the computerized system could replace paper-based medical files with digitized records of patients' medical history.