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Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral Arterial Disease

As many as 12 million Americans are dealing with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a progressive blockage of the blood vessels that carry blood to the lower extremities.  For many of these patients, amputation is the outcome, leaving them without a foot, or in others, half or more of their leg.  Medical literature has shown that in these patients, their risk of death within 1 to 5 years of their amputation they have a 40% likelihood of amputation of the remaining leg and a significant risk of death.  It’s clearly a serious problem.

But we can reduce the rate of amputation among these patients and we can also reduce the severity of intervention required to address the problem if we catch it early.  Dr. Joseph Ricotta, vascular surgeon and director of the Northside Hearth & Vascular program, stopped by the studio to talk about what can be done to improve patient outcomes for those with PAD.  We talked about the troublesome statistics around peripheral arterial disease, including the fact that among diabetics with PAD who develop a non-healing wound resulting in amputation, as many as 50% of them never receive a non-invasive study that could prevent the loss of their leg.

That means we need our partners in primary care and foot/ankle surgery to take an aggressive stance when presented with patients who are at risk for PAD or who have a poorly-healing wound on their leg or foot.  There are numerous non-invasive studies that take only minutes in the vascular surgeon’s office that can readily identify patients who have blockage affecting blood flow to their feet.  In these cases, if caught early, surgeons like Dr. Ricotta have more options and greater probability they can reestablish adequate blood flow that helps a wound to heal, preventing or mitigating extent of amputation.

We talked about the fact that Northside offers access to 2 of the country’s 10 robotic devices that significantly improves the effectiveness of minimally-invasive procedures by allowing the vascular surgeons to access and treat previously-inaccessible locations.  Additionally, with the assistance of the robot, the surgeons are able to reduce damage that can occur on the inside of the vessel being treated, which reduces the likelihood that scarring after the procedure will block the vessel off again (a leading cause of reocclusion in PAD lesions).

I also spoke with foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Michael Bednarz of Ankle & Foot Centers of Georgia, whose office is located in Woodstock, just north of Marietta.  He talked about treating PAD patients with wounds from the perspective of the specialist who is tasked with managing the wound and ultimately, treating it surgically as necessary (including amputation when efforts to heal the wound fail and serious infection is a risk).

We talked about the fact that amputation should be viewed as a last-ditch option.  And Mike shared that no patient should face amputation without having had a vascular study to determine if poor flow is contributing to the wound not healing.  He talked about the fact that when he’s presented with a poorly-healing wound, particularly in a patient with PAD risk factors such as diabetes, one of the first things he does is request a vascular study to assess blood flow.  He also utilizes Transcutaneous Oximetry, a non-invasive test that shows how well the tissue at the surface where a wound is located is getting oxygen.

With the results of those studies, he is able to address poor blow flow by referral to a vascular surgeon and/or to hyperbaric medicine (readily available in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs) to address poor oxygen levels in the skin.  He also evaluates other risk factors such as glucose levels and presence of infection, often resulting in consults with infectious disease and/or endocrine specialists to help heal the limb-threatening wound.  We talked about the fact that a multi-specialty approach insures that more patients can avoid amputation and the resultant high mortality rates that come with them.

Early involvement with an experienced wound specialist, vascular diagnostics/intervention, infection control, and endocrinology are all vital in helping patients avoid an amputation that might also cost them their life.

Special Guests:

Joseph Ricotta, MD, Medical Director, Heart & Vascular Institute, Northside Hospital  linkedin_small1  twitter_logo_small  facebook_logo_small3  youtube logo

Northside Vascular

  • Doctor of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine
  • Surgical Residency, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Vascular Surgery, Mayo Clinic
  • Fellowship, Advanced Endovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation
  • Associate Professor of Surgery, Georgia Regents University, University of Georgia School of Medicine

Michael Bednarz, DPM, Ankle & Foot Centers of Georgia  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  youtube logo

Ankle & Foot Centers of Georgia

  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Kent State University School of Podiatric Medicine
  • Residency, Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Miami
  • Board Certified, American Board of Foot/Ankle Surgery
  • Recognized as a “Top Doc” in the WellStar Health System

Sleep Disorders

North Atlanta Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists

Sleep Disorders

It is estimated that as many as 35-40% of Americans experience poor quality of sleep secondary to a variety of sleep disorders.  We continued our series with Northside Hospital this week as I sat down with Sleep Medicine specialist, Dr. Robert Albin.  We talked about the statistics around sleep disorders and Dr. Albin discussed the serious accidents that have occurred that are thought to be related to sleep deprivation.  Some of those include:  Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Chernobyl, a recent ferry accident in NYC, and more.

Dr. Albin shared how poor quality and low quantities of sleep can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, poor mental function, depression, and others.  We talked about the process sleep specialists go through to determine the source of a person’s sleep disorder.  In many cases, the issue is borne out of mental or emotional stress rather than a physical/neurological  issue.  In those cases the sleep specialist will collaborate with a psychology/psychiatry specialist to help work through those causative issues.

For patients who have a sleep disorder related to brain chemistry/function or an obstructive process such as obstructive sleep apnea, the specialists have specialized tests they can conduct to determine the quality of sleep and determine the cause of the problem.  The sleep specialty team at Northside offers a variety of diagnostic studies/treatments and it was the first sleep center of its kind in the city.  For our listeners who are themselves or their loved ones are experiencing difficulty sleeping please take a listen to this week’s show and share it!  You might help someone you care about.

Special Guest:

Dr. Robert Albin, MD, of North Atlanta Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists

North Atlanta Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists

  • Board Certified, Pulmonology, Internal Medicine, and Sleep Medicine
  • Doctorate of Medicine, Cum Laude, Emory School of Medicine
  • Associate Medical Director of NAPS Center for Sleep disorders
  • Medical Director for Peachtree Road Race and Atlanta Marathon
  • Past President and current Board member of the Medical Association of Atlanta

Dr. Jon Minter of Northside Total Joint Specialists

Northside Total Joint Specialists

Dr. Jon Minter of Northside Total Joint Specialists

This week I sat down with Dr. Jon Minter of Northside Total Joint Specialists.  In our ongoing monthly series with Northside Hospital we learned about the various conditions that could lead to a total joint replacement.  Dr. Minter shared some great information about some of the techniques he uses now to perform the surgery, including using robotic assistance with portions of the procedure.  Having robotic assistance helps the surgeon minimize surgical trauma to the tissue in the surgical field, making the recovery process proceed more quickly and with less pain.

Dr. Minter talked about the fact that he is able to perform joint replacement for a wide variety of joints from knees, to hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles and even digits.  He is able to repair joint damage from disease processes such as arthritis as well as traumatic injuries.  I was surprised to learn that patients undergoing total hip replacement and total knee replacement can often go home to recover the same day as their surgery rather than staying for several days in the hospital.

Dr. Minter discussed how he takes a conservative approach to joint replacement, exploring non-surgical options where feasible to attempt to give the patient relief of pain while avoiding surgery if possible.  If you or a loved one is experiencing a decrease in activity in an effort to avoid pain you should seek a consultation with this specialist.  You will be pleased to experience his pleasant, personable demeanor.  We talked about the fact that when patients begin to avoid activity in an effort to prevent experiencing pain, they can see their heart health decrease over time, potentially shortening their lives.  Dr. Jon Minton of Northside Total Joint Specialists can help you or your loved ones get your life back through his expert, conservative approach to joint replacement.

Special Guest:

Dr. Jon Minter, DO, of Northside Total Joint Specialists  linkedin_small1 

Northside Total Joint Specialists

  • Doctor of Osteopathy, Kirksville Osteopathic Medicine
  • Residency, Orthopedic Surgery, Parkview Hospital
  • Adult Reconstructive and Arthritis Fellowship, Florida Orthopaedic Institute/Tampa General Hospital
  • Published Study Author and Frequent Lecturer on the subject of Joint Replacement

Cancer Support Community Atlanta at Northside Cancer Institute


Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute


Cancer Support Community Atlanta


at Northside Cancer Institute  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3

This week I sat down with three ladies from the Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute.  The Cancer Support Community, Atlanta, is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing a variety of supportive services for cancer patients and their families in a home-like environment in the heart of Atlanta. Their staff provides a wide range of support, informative education programs, a variety of gentle stress reduction and exercise classes.  The Cancer Support Community also provides access to a number of social activities that enable cancer patients, survivors, and care givers to get to know others who are in or who have experienced similar challenging circumstances.  All classes are offered free of charge and are led by seasoned professionals committed to supporting individuals and families in our community facing cancer.  Through participating in these educational, supportive, and social offerings, patients, survivors, and loved ones can reduce anxiety in their lives, gain hope and a sense of greater control in their lives, and achieve higher levels of health and fitness (physical and emotional).

My guests on the show have all experienced cancer either as a patient or as a loved one/care giver for a person dealing with cancer.  As you listen to their stories it is quickly apparent that when you engage in the services offered by the Cancer Support Community at Northside Cancer Institute you will be cared for by people who truly understand and can relate to your situation.  Many of the folks you’ll meet when you go to the Cancer Support Community are long-time survivors who have been utilizing their services for a number of years—and they plan to continue.  Check out today’s show and you’ll understand why!

Special Guests:

Rachel Newby, LMSW

Rachel is an Atlanta native who attended Oglethorpe University, where she received a BA in psychology.  She continued her education at UGA where she received her Masters Degree in Social Work. Rachel currently lives in the city of Decatur, is married, has 2 kids and way too many pets!  As for her connection to cancer, Rachel’s mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 1998, her freshman year of college. Unfortunately, at the time, supportive services for cancer patients were limited and she was extremely isolated. She died during Rachel’s senior year of college. She has been with the Cancer Support Community since 2005, making this her 9th year with the organization. Rachel’s day to day goal is to make sure that people that come to CSC Atlanta feel supported by the staff and one another.

Bonnie Bennett

Volunteer coordinator, CSC-Atlanta, 12-year breast cancer survivor and client of CSC-Atlanta

Bonnie is from Winston-Salem, NC and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1966 with a BA in Elementary Education. After teaching in NC, she moved to Atlanta in 1969 and went to work for what was then the Trust Company of Georgia, now SunTrust. In 1973, Bonnie married an Atlanta native and started a family. Twelve years ago at age 58, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to a strong family history of the disease, she elected to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. Two years after this experience, she was introduced to the Cancer Support Community. She found she was having difficulty in returning to life as she had known it before the experience. At CSC, Bonnie found the support she was looking for. The positive and welcoming environment, along with the many activities and events offering further support, helped her move forward. Since that time, Bonnie has continued to participate as an active member in addition to serving as the volunteer coordinator. She coordinates a wonderful group of volunteers who staff the front desk during the week. They are there to greet CSC members, as well as to assist the staff. Bonnie also conducts the Monday morning orientation meeting, which introduces new members to the facility.  Cancer Support Community Atlanta has an annual fundraiser in April, the Chastain Chase 5K, which is staffed by CSC volunteers. Bonnie is a wife, mother and grandmother who is grateful for and passionate about the Cancer Support Community!

Donna Meyer, BSN, MS

Donna Meyer is the Survivorship Coordinator at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. In her role she works with patients and caregivers from the time of their diagnosis throughout the balance of their lives—that’s the definition of a “Survivor”! Her focus and passion is on improving the quality of life for families impacted by cancer through treatment summaries, survivorship care plans, supportive care, education and special events.

Donna is a RN with many years of experience in a wide variety of care settings. In addition she has a Master’s Degree in Counseling. She is a cancer survivor herself so she has personal experience with many of the same concerns that patients and families are experiencing. Donna has been active in the community working in schools, churches and community organizations and promotes health and wellness as part of cancer prevention and healthy living after a diagnosis

She is a liaison with the Cancer Support Community and works with them to support their programing and advocate for needs of patients and families within the Northside care system.




Talking Lung Cancer With Northside Cancer Institute Physicians

Lung Cancer

Dr.’s Howard Silverboard, Lijo Simpson, Nancy Wiggers, and John Gouldman talk lung cancer.


Lung Cancer

Northside Cancer Institute Physicians Discuss Lung Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.  Additionally, the lung cancer patient population in Georgia experiences a higher-than-average mortality rate than the rest of the country.  It’s a serious concern.  Because we live in a heavily-rural region within the heart of the tobacco belt our community has many cigarette smokers.  On top of that the Southeast region of the country, including much of Georgia, has very high levels of Radon gas present in the soil.  When individuals are exposed to higher levels of Radon gas their risk of lung cancer is significantly increased, particularly when they are smokers or exposed to second-hand smoke.

On today’s show, made possible by a collaboration with Northside Cancer Institute, we talk with some of Atlanta’s premier physicians from Northside Cancer Institute who are tasked with diagnosing and treating lung cancer.  The discuss measures to prevent or reduce risk for developing lung cancer, who should consider screening for the disease, how it’s diagnosed and staged, and treatment measures for lung cancer once it’s discovered.

Northside’s cancer program was selected to be one of fewer than 30 hospitals that comprise the National Community Cancer Center (NCCCP) in recognition of the program’s excellence in cancer care and leadership in the community.  Over the last two years, Northside has taken great strides to utilize the opportunities that come with being a part of the NCCCP and has expanded its regional position as one of the largest and most respected providers of comprehensive cancer services.  Another example of the level of cancer expertise Northside offers its patients is reflected in the recent partnership initiated between Northside Cancer Institute and Georgia Cancer Specialists and Atlanta Cancer Care.  These two cancer groups comprise the largest collection of cancer specialists in the community and offers access to some of the regions most respected cancer physicians. 

Special Guests:

Howard Silverboard, MD of Pulmonary and Critical Care of Atlanta  facebook_logo_small3

Pulmonology & Critical Care of Atlanta

  • Doctorate of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham
  • Residency, Emory Hospital, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Pulmonology & Critical Care, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care
  • Medical Director, Thoracic Oncology Dept., Northside Hospital

Lijo Simpson, MD of Atlanta Cancer Care  facebook_logo_small3

Atlanta Cancer Care

  • Doctorate of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences
  • Residency, Internal Medicine, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
  • Fellowship, Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic
  • Author of multiple published studies
  • Frequent presenter, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Nancy Wiggers, MD of Northside Hospital Radiation Oncology Care  facebook_logo_small3  youtube logo  twitter_logo_small

Northside Hospital Radiation Oncology Care

  • MD, Medical College of Georgia
  • Residency, Medical College of Georgia
  • Board Certified, Radiation Oncology
  • Co-Author, “Portal Design in Radiation Therapy”

John Gouldman, MD of Atlanta Cardiac & Thoracic Surgical Associates  facebook_logo_small3

Atlanta Cardiac & Thoracic Surgical Associates

  • Doctorate of Medicine, Medical College of Georgia
  • Fellowship, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Louisville
  • Board Certified in Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Recipient, Dean’s Research Fellowship Award
  • Only surgeon in Georgia performing Nuss Pectus Repair in young adults