Healthy Living

Creative Approaches to Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Creative Approaches to Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Creative Approaches to Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Medical research is often focused on uncovering how diseases develop and progress from the earliest possible stage. While this type of research is useful because it provides insights into what causes the disease and what’s likely to make it progress, it doesn’t always yield immediate results when it comes to developing new treatment methods. Continued research into cystic fibrosis is invaluable for fighting the disease in the long term, but it can often take doctors a significant amount of time to translate new information into actionable treatment methods. While research-driven treatment can often take quite a long time to develop, some doctors have used what’s available around them to develop more immediate alternatives to help patients now.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Dr. Bryan Goldstein is a pediatric interventional cardiologist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. While he has a healthy respect for tried-and-true methods of patient care, he’s also an innovative problem solver who doesn’t hesitate to look around him and use what’s available to help his patients. A few years ago, Goldstein used his knowledge and available tools to save a 14-year-old patient.

One of Goldstein’s patients, 14-year-old Leah, had cystic fibrosis in addition to a failing liver. She underwent a liver transplant to try and solve some of her problems, but a few months after the transplant she developed complications including difficulty breathing and fluid filling her abdomen. After examining Leah further, physicians discovered that the blood vessels connecting her new liver to her other organs weren’t working properly, so blood wasn’t able to exit the liver. One of the problems that doctors were presented with when trying to determine how to treat Leah was the fact that she was still only 14. Leah would continue to grow for several more years, so if they replaced the blood vessel with a traditional stint, it wouldn’t be able to grow as she did, which would cause more complications in the future.

In response to the challenge facing the treatment team, Goldstein conceptualized the idea of using an over-the-counter stint that was expandable for replacing the blood vessel. The goal was that, by using a stint that could expand and retract as Leah continued to grow, the stint would essentially be able to grow with her. While the idea was met with positivity, some other physicians did have reservations. Surgeon Greg Tiao noted that if Leah needed to have further work done in the future or if the stent needed to be replaced, then there would be a significant amount of metal inside her which could present additional complications during surgery. Despite some reservations, the medical team went through with the procedure and it was successful. Since Leah’s case, the hospital has actually gone on to help about 2 dozen other child patients in similar situations.

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Read on to learn more about different creative approaches to cystic fibrosis treatment, and what these discoveries mean for the future of CF care.