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Unexpected Consequences of Joint Replacement Surgery

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

May 13, 2007

An English proverb cautions that "It is the unexpected that always happens". No doubt people looking back on their life can recall several of those unexpected and unpleasant events. But how often do unexpected events happen in surgery?

How To Prevent Unusual Hazards in 2007

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

January 8, 2007

Of course you all know how to keep healthy this year. Keep active, eat healthy foods, don't smoke, drink alcohol moderately, have regular medical, dental and eye checkups, buy a bathroom scale so there's no burying your head in the sand about obesity, etc, etc, etc. But here are some precautions you may not have considered.

Unfortunately, I Cannot Guarantee Your Survival

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

October 1, 2006

"What's the worst thing that can happen if I agree to surgery?" a patient recently asked me. Unfortunately, the only honest answer was that "some patients die". It's hardly the positive way to discuss surgical complications, but it does get quickly to the heart of the issue. Today, patients have every right to be informed about risk, but to do so effectively is easier said than done.

What's The Best Day To Have Surgery?

by Dr. W. Gifford Jones

Friday, September 15, 2006

Can you remain healthy during a hospital stay? It's not as easy as you think. This column is not intended to make you run for the woods rather than seeking medical attention. But by being a well-informed patient you can decrease the risk of falling into hospital traps.

Is It Losing an Ear or Using Bloodsuckers?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

March 19, 2006

It was August 16, 1985 and the day started in horrendous fashion for Guy Condelli. A five-year old boy in Medford, Massachusetts, he had his right ear bitten off by a dog. Dr. Joseph Upton, a reconstructive surgeon at Children's Hospital, Boston, reattached the ear during a tedious 12-hour operation.

If It's Partly Broken Should You Fix It?

by Dr. W. Gifford Jones

February 19, 2006

Do you want to have a body free of imperfections? In an ideal world we would all say "Yes". But how important is it to be perfect?" A recent report shows that in some surgical operations it's prudent to live with a slight imperfection.

Why Surgeons Need Cockpit Training

by Dr. W. Gifford Jones
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Would you buy an airplane ticket if the pilot refused to check his instrument panel before taking off? You'd probably run for the woods, choose another airline or decide it's safer to go by train. But a recent study shows that surgeons are not following proven surgical guidelines for a potentially fatal operation. What's needed? A big dose of pilot discipline.

A Surgical Assembly Line to Repair Hernias

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

May 24, 2005

To ask what goes on at The Shouldice Hospital is like asking, "Is the Pope Catholic?" This hospital situated in Thornhill, near Toronto, is a world-famous center for the repair of hernias. But is its reputation as good as they say? If so, why? And why is it possible for surgeons to repair an obvious hernia and miss another one? To find the answers I observed Dr Casim Degani, chief of surgery at Shouldice, perform one hernia operation after another.

Reduction Surgery to Treat Emphysema

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

March 20, 2005

"Damn those cigarettes", an angry Johnny Carson repeated over and over as he slowly died from emphysema. Unfortunately, Carson should have said "Damn those cigarettes" years ago. The former star of the Tonight Show could have stopped destroying his lungs. But Carson, like so many others, failed to realize that once damage has occurred nothing can restore lung tissue. However, a new surgical operation, lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), can help to improve the quality of life for some patients suffering from emphysema.

Unexpected Consequences of Joint Replacement Surgery

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

June 24, 2003

An English proverb cautions that "It is the unexpected that always happens". No doubt people looking back on their life can recall several of those unexpected and unpleasant events. But how often do these unexpected events happen in surgery?

Urinary Incontinence, A Little Tape Can Cure It

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

November 24, 2002

A woman recently complained to me, "I'd give all I own to be rid of the continual loss of urine. I'm embarrassed and I've become a social outcast. It's ruined my life." Today, with an aging population, 12 million North American women suffer from this disabling problem. And for years the ingenuity of surgeons has been taxed in the effort to ease their suffering. Now, a new technique is curing thousands of incontinent women. All it takes is a small piece of Tension-Free Vaginal Tape (TVT).

Think Twice Before Agreeing to These Operations

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

May 15, 2002

Is it better sometimes to run for the woods rather than submit to surgery? The decision is easy when the diagnosis is acute appendicitis or a strangulated hernia. But there are times when a sojourn in the woods makes sense. Time is often the best healer.

Appendicitis Strikes More Than Kids

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

December 16, 2001

I'll never forget one Christmas. I had been in training at The Harvard Medical School only a few months and arrived home to find my father desperately ill. During a trip to Scotland he had developed abdominal pain and the doctor had mistakenly diagnosed "an intestinal cold". The decision to fly home nearly ended my father's life. An acute appendicitis had ruptured causing generalized peritonitis.

A Scotch-and-Soda And an Alarming Surgical Dilemma

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

April 5, 2001

"Stick out your tongue", my dentist invariably requests during my regular dental checkup. I know that shortly he'll examine my teeth. But for the moment he's looking for any sign of cancer of either the tongue or the rest of the oral cavity. But what happens if your dentist or doctor detects a malignancy? What I learned over a scotch-and-soda should alarm all of us.

Sacrifice Part of Your Stomach To Lose Weight?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

February 7 , 2001

"Desperate diseases require desperate cures", wrote the immortal bard, William Shakespeare. For grossly obese patients this means putting part of the stomach and small intestine out of commission (bariatric surgery). But this is not minor surgery and patients should know the risks before making this desperate decision.

The Benefits and Risk of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

by Dr. W. Gifford Jones
September 10, 2000

In 1991 Dr. Joacques Perissat at the University of Bordeau, in France, announced to the World Congress of Surgeons that he had removed a gallbladder (cholecystectomy), using optical instruments inserted through a few small incisions. Now, 90 percent of gallbladder operations are done by fiber-optics. What are the advantages and what is its most devastating complication? And the crematorium is the cure for some gallstones.

"Critical Mass" Is The Name of the Game In Surgery

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

February 7, 1999

Suppose you need a radical cancer operation. Or angioplasty to remove a blockage in coronary arteries. Or a coronary bypass operation. Who should perform these procedures? Where should they be done? These are questions that patients and families of an aging population are asking more often. The answers may mean the difference between life and death.

The 90 Percent Solution For Hemorrhoids

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

January 17, 1999

"Could I have prevented this problem?" a patient recently asked me. She had had surgery to treat hemorrhoids. But too much tissue had been removed by the scalpel. Now the rectal opening was too small causing difficult and painful bowel movements. A simple rubber©band could have prevented this complication.

Believe Me; It's Not Like An Appendectomy

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

October 10, 1998

"Have you had your bypass operation?" and "How are you doing?" I've had a massive response from readers asking these questions. But I've delayed writing about my experience as a patient so I could sit back, reflect on it, and provide a more rational answer.

Lung Reduction Surgery For Emphysema patients

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

August 9, 1998

How would you like to be attached to an oxygen tank for several hours a day? It's not a pleasant thought. But today thousands of patients are destined for this fate. The majority are smokers who have developed emphysema. Now, a new surgical procedure offers better quality of life to these people.

Do Male Gynecologists Need a Sex Change?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

November 17, 1996

It's not been a good week. I've had multiple problems in my medical office. One of my columns disappeared into eternity when my computer crashed. My son's dog, Dawson, tried to bite me. Now a Friday headline in a prestigious U.S. newspaper claims I and other male gynecologists are about to become as extinct as the Dodo bird. If that's the case I have some advice for women.

Pigs May Save Thousands of Lives

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

November 10, 1996

Every eight hours a person waiting for a transplant dies in the U.S. because a human organ is not available. Last week I criticized Christians. The ones who refuse to donate an organ because they believe a person's body should be intact at burial. I suggested that Ministers remind their congregations that you can still enter the Pearly Gates minus a heart or kidney.

Don't Worry If Your Surgeon Has A Personality Like Dracula's

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

October 15, 1995

What's the best way to have your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy)? Who should do it? Where should it be done? This year an estimated 700,000 North Americans will have this operation. But before you submit to the surgery make sure you're an informed patient. Like the ad for Holiday Inns "There should be no surprises".

Computers and "Funny Feeling Fingers"

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

February 26 , 1995

Do you feel a burning, tingling and numbness sensation in your hand while working long hours at the computer? Does your hand go to sleep at night? Or have you dropped the coffee pot lately? If so, you may be developing the "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" (CTS). If so, what is the best way to treat this disorder?

What A Pity Common Sense Is So Uncommon

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

December 11, 1994

What does this troubled world need most at the end of 1994? We have escalating medical costs, patients dying for want of donor organs, children who never receive a simple vaccination and cancer victims dying in needless pain. I often ask myself what one ingredient could solve these problems. Invariably I reach the same conclusion. Our children face horrendous problems unless we start putting plain common sense into the Christmas stocking.

How A Greek Mother Solved a Researcher's Problem

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

June 19, 1994

How would you behave if you were a Mother living in Greece and your son was a transplant surgeon in England? Possibly you'd worry that the foul English weather might him cause ill health. Maybe fret that he might marry an English woman and never return home. As we all know Mothers do lose sleep fussing about their children. But in this case a Mother's anxiety helped to produce "Neoral", a medication that will help transplant patients live a longer and better life.

Is It Prudent To Seek a Second Surgical Opinion?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

March 27, 1994

When is a second surgical opinion an absolute necessity? And when should you accept your own doctor's advice? These have always been thorny questions when people are stricken with disease. Today they are even more important when technology often takes precedence over good sense. And when health care funds are scarce.

This Hunter Wished He'd Gone Fishing

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

July 25, 1993

Have you ever considered breeding leeches as a way to fight this recession? It's possibly the last thought in your mind even in these difficult financial times. But several years ago I suggested it would prove to be a sound investment. Time has proven me right. This week the story of how these slimy little worms helped to save a man's scalp following a grizzly attack.

Laparoscopy Cholecystectomy And Common Bile Duct Injury

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

January 16, 1993

What is the best way to have your gallbladder removed? Two years ago I peered into my crystal ball and made a prediction about "laparoscopy cholecystectomy", the new method of removing gallbladders. I prophesied that some patients would face dire complications after this procedure. How right was my crystal ball?

Nipple Discharge: Is it Cancer?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

November 29, 1992

How ominous a sign is discharge from the nipple? A few weeks ago I received an anxious call from a business woman. A few days earlier she had noted a greenish discharge from one of her nipples. She was convinced she had a malignancy and was finding it impossible to keep her mind on her work.

Why A Baboon Liver?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

October 11, 1992

Why did Dr. Starzl transplant a baboon's liver into a 35 year old man? How did this patient feel about receiving the animals organ? Did this particular liver offer advantages a human liver did not? And how has the drug cyclosporin taken organ transplantation from dream to reality? To find answers to these questions I interviewed Dr. Thomas E. Starzl in Paris, France, during the XIV International Congress of the Transplantation Society.

Where Are All The Christians Hiding?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

October 4, 1992

"Where are all the good Christians hiding?" I recently posed this question in Paris, France, where I was attending the XIV International Congress of the Transplantation Society. I was in Paris to interview Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, Director of the Transplant Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Starzl had just made headlines around the world for transplanting the first baboon liver into a human. But what's the connection between a baboon's liver, Christianity and Dr. Starzl? And how would a Professor of Law correct a gross human injustice?

How a hoover vacuum solved the riddle

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

May 5, 1992

How many readers would prefer to have a gallbladder or uterus removed through a hardly perceptible scar rather than an eight inch incision? To be able to leave hospital in 24 hours rather than a week? And endure much less pain? Few would say "no" to this offer. Today, laparoscopy provides the magic bullet of surgery. But how could surgeons remove a solid kidney through a button-hole incision? Could a Hoover vacuum provide the answer?

Minor surgery and the holiday inn

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

April 14, 1991

Harvey Cushing, Harvard's famous neurosurgeon once remarked, "There is no such thing as minor surgery, but there are a lot of minor surgeons". It's still true today. This why it pays to remember Harvey Cushing's words when a doctor says, "Don't worry it's only a minor procedure".


By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

August 12, 1990

Would Anthony Eden, the suave, former British Foreign Secretary, have anything to tell today's surgeons? Last year Dr. Jacques Perissat, Professor of Digestive Surgery at the University of Bordeau, France had exciting news for abdominal surgeons. He told the 33rd World Congress of Surgeons that he was removing gallbladders (cholecystectomy) without using the usual long incision. Doctors in North America are currently learning this technique and for some patients it will be a major benefit. But both patients and surgeons should remember Anthony Eden before they become too enthusiastic about this latest operation.

Vanity surgery can kill

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

April 15, 1990

It's a frightful tragedy when a patient dies following removal of an acute appendix. Or after excision of a diseased gallbladder. But it's horrendous when a patient dies from liposuction, cosmetic surgery that could have been avoided. Last year Toni Sullivan, a real estate agent in Markham, Ontario, died from a massive blood clot in the lung two days after excess fat was removed by liposuction. At least 12 other deaths have occurred in the U.S. Since these won't be the last to die, patients should begin to ask themselves some questions before trying to turn back the clock.

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker's website is:

My book, �90 + How I Got There� can be obtained by sending $19.95 to:

Giff Holdings, 525 Balliol St, Unit # 6,Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1E1

Pre-2008 articles by Gifford Jones
Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod