Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just a flesh wound

I'm still searching around trying to find out what evidence there is that collapsing people's lungs actually helped with tuberculosis.

I found some very interesting information in the book:  Timebomb: the global epidemic of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis
by Reichman and Tanne.

 First, the discovery that a collapsed lung might be helpful is attributed to the Italian Physician Giorgio Baglivi who, in 1696, reported that a patient with tuberculosis had improved dramatically after suffering a sword wound to the chest. Because the sword had pierced the chest and collapsed the lung surgeons experimented with deliberately collapsing lungs. (It's a good job his Tuberculosis didn't improve after having his arm lopped off....)

Secondly, the authors state that:

No comparison of pneumothorax or these other treatments was ever done. If pneumothorax helped any patients at all, it was probably because the collapse sealed off the diseased lung and prevented TB from spreading. Nonetheless, even though the science that went into these heavy-handed measures was lacking and there were no controlled trials, as would be required under current standards, Dr. Michael Iseman and his group at National Jewish Center in Denver have reported reasonable results at the present time using these otherwise obsolete methods in patients who are resistant to antituberculosis drugs, and therefore have no other treatment options. 

Wow. So not only is there no evidence that it worked but the situation with multi-drug resistant Tubeculosis has got so bad they are trying it again.

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