Top medical innovations address headache, diabetes, cancer

Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:00am EDT
 
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By Debra Sherman

Oct 31 (Reuters) - The best medical innovations for next year include an almond-size device that's implanted in the mouth to relieve severe headaches and a hand-held scanner resembling a blow dryer that detects skin cancer, the Cleveland Clinic said on Wednesday.

The clinic's annual list of the best medical innovations for 2013 also includes new drugs to treat advanced prostate cancer and better mammography technology.

But leading the 2013 list for innovations is an old procedure that has a new use due to findings in a recent study. Physicians and researchers at the clinic voted weight-loss surgery as the top medical innovation, not for its effectiveness in reducing obesity, but for its ability to control Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

Over the years, bariatric surgeons noticed that the procedure would often rid obese patients of Type 2 diabetes, before they even left the hospital.

A study, led by Cleveland Clinic head of Bariatric and Metabolic Institute Dr. Philip Schauer, examining this phenomenon was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.

" Bariatric surgery has been around for a while. The reason it was chosen as the top innovation is because Medicare has broadened its indication for payment, and Medicaid in many states follows Medicare. A lot of the other (private) insurance companies started covering it, so it's much more accessible," Dr. Michael Roizen, the Cleveland Clinic's Chief Wellness Officer, said in an interview.

The criteria that insurers use to cover the surgery has been broadened because of its effectiveness in controlling Type 2 diabetes, he said.

The number of people affected by diabetes has tripled over the past 30 years to more than 20 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 90 percent of those cases are Type 2.   Continued...