Aneurysms, anesthesia and animal-transmitted illnesses

October 24, 2018

Q. How can I tell if I have an aneurysm?

Aneurysms are dangerous artery bulges that can be lethal if they burst.

Fortunately, aneurysms can be detected by a physical examination, x-ray, ultrasound and modern imaging systems such as a CAT scan or an MRI.

The size and location of the aneurysm determines the treatment method. For example, aneurysms in the upper chest are usually operated on immediately. Aneurysms in the lower chest and the area below your stomach are watched at first. If they grow too large or cause symptoms, surgery may be required.

The standard treatment for aneurysm once it meets the indications for surgery is replacement of that weakened portion of the aorta with an artificial graft.

In recent years, a treatment has been developed to repair an aneurysm using less-invasive surgery. In the procedure, a stent-graft made of a polyester tube inside a metal cylinder is inserted into the bloodstream at the end of a catheter. The stent-graft is positioned to carry the blood flow instead of the aneurysm.

Q. How safe is anesthesia today?

Anesthesia is risky, but today it is safer than ever for all age groups. Your age is not as important a risk factor as your medical condition and the type of surgery you are having.

Safer drugs and major advances in the monitoring equipment doctors use in surgery have reduced anesthesia complications. In the last decade alone, deaths caused by anesthesia have dropped 25-fold, to 1 in 250,000.

In addition, shorter-acting drugs, more specific drugs and new intravenous drugs can minimize the nausea and vomiting that sometimes occur after anesthesia.

Before your surgery, you can expect questions from your doctors regarding your anesthesia. The following have to be considered: medical problems you might have, medications you take, whether you smoke or drink alcohol, any allergies you have, previous negative experience with anesthesia, and adverse reactions to anesthesia by other family members. The information collected by your doctors guides them in their treatment.

Q. Can pets make you sick?

Animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans are known as “zoonoses.” Seniors are among the most vulnerable to zoonoses.

Psittacosis is a common bird disease known as “parrot fever.” It occurs frequently in birds such as parakeets and cockatiels. Bacteria in bird droppings and nasal discharges can be inhaled. Psittacosis can develop into pneumonia and other health problems.

Cats can carry a parasite that causes the disease toxoplasmosis. You can get it from cat feces. Cat-Scratch Disease (CSD) may cause fever, fatigue, headache and swollen lymph glands. Most cat scratches don't develop into CSD.

Worms can infect dogs, cats, and humans. Worms live in the intestines of animals and are expelled in the stool. Yards and homes can become contaminated from worm eggs that are passed in animal feces and hatch in the soil.

People usually get salmonellosis by eating contaminated food. But it can also be transmitted to people through pets, particularly reptiles, baby chicks, and ducklings, which commonly pass the Salmonella bacterium in their feces.

Rabies, a deadly viral disease, is transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal, usually by a bite. Domestic animals account for less than 10 percent of the reported animal rabies cases.

Mycobacterium is one of the main infectious germ families associated with fish and aquarium water. People should wear rubber gloves when cleaning a fish tank.


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