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Shh! Health Treatments Your Doctor May Keep Quiet

Shh! Health Treatments Your Doctor May Keep Quiet

No one can blame a doctor for wanting to keep his or her patients safe, but new surgical methods for common ailments have proven that a physician’s first choice may not always be the best.

It’s not that your doctor is trying to keep you in the dark. Instead, he or she may simply lack training in cutting-edge surgeries or insurance coverage. Your doc may also just be wary of using a treatment that is still relatively new. Regardless, it is important for you to know your options. Take a look at the following common medical problems, and the surgeries that are at your fingertips.

Hip arthritis: The usual treatment involves waiting for moderate forms of osteoarthritis of the hip to develop into a need for a full or partial hip replacement. The option your doc may have missed, however, is hip resurfacing, a procedure where surgeons are able to leave more bone intact than they would with a full replacement. This surgery also means avoidance of sometimes a decade of pain while waiting for a hip replacement.

Depression: Typical treatment involves antidepressants, talk therapy or a combination of both. But another option may be electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT). Now, before visions of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" dance in your head, know that the treatment today is not as it has been portrayed in Hollywood movies. These days, patients are given general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant, so they can avoid extreme muscle convulsions.

Breast reconstruction: Federal law states insurers must pay for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, but women are typically only given the choice of saline or silicone implants. A better option, however, may be the DIEP flap in which a plastic surgeon moves a patient’s abdominal skin and fat to her breasts. Talk about a built-in tummy tuck, and more natural looking and feeling breasts! One possible road block: Getting insurers to pay for it. [MSNBC]

Posted: 6/11/08