Author: Kat J. McAlpine

How precision medicine turned Jesus’ unique tumor into an operable one

Jesus stands on a playground jungle gym in August 2017, after a cancerous tumor was removed surgicallyOn a hot, August day in a Boston park, Jesus Apolinaris Cruz cooled off with a water squirt gun fight with his mother and sister. As he nimbly ran and dodged their aim, he twisted around to sneak shots of water back in their direction.  Peals of laughter rang out from the group as Jesus landed a jet of water on his sister.

It’s hard to imagine that just weeks earlier, Jesus, 13, had undergone surgery near his hip to remove an unclassified tumor, so-described because it couldn’t be categorized as any specific kind of cancer.

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Pulmonary vein stenosis: A clinical trial in Jack’s juice glass

Jack, who has pulmonary vein stenosis, is pictured sitting on the back deck at this family homeAt just 6 months old, Jack Marquis was suddenly given four weeks to live. After he was born with complex congenital heart defects, Jack’s doctors in California had performed two open-heart surgeries that they thought would save Jack’s life.

But just when they thought he was out of the woods, Jack’s condition suddenly began to deteriorate rapidly.

“On top of everything else, we learned he had a rare condition called pulmonary vein stenosis,” says Jack’s father, Andrew.

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Experiencing how spinal fusion treats scoliosis before surgery day

Scoliosis patients and families look on as a nurse presents inside a simulation hospital room
The Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center has partnered with the Simulator Program to offer a unique simulation experience to patients who will undergo surgical treatment for scoliosis, a procedure called spinal fusion, this summer.

“In my experience, patients do better when they are well prepared for surgery,” says Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, a pediatric spine specialist and surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, who performs dozens of spinal fusion surgeries each year to treat children with scoliosis.

That’s why Glotzbecker teamed up with Brianna O’Connell, a child life specialist and program lead of simulation programs for patients and caregivers at the Boston Children’s SIMPeds Simulator Program, to create an immersive day for patients and their families to experience spinal fusion well ahead of surgery day.

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Ask the expert: What is the best way to correct my child’s crossed eye?

Image of Dr. David Hunter, an expert at using Botox to correct crossed eyes
Dr. David Hunter is experienced in using traditional strabismus surgery and Botox injection to correct a child’s crossed eye.

If you see that your child’s eye has become crossed, or he or she complains of having double vision, you may be struggling to find clear answers about what caused this to happen and the best way to get your child’s eyes working together again.

When the sudden onset of an inward-turning crossed eye doesn’t respond to glasses and isn’t associated with other systemic or structural disease, it’s known as acute comitant esotropia. This condition is quite rare and usually requires prompt surgical intervention.

Strabismus: Misaligned eye(s)
Esotropia: Inward-turning (“crossed”) eye(s)
Comitant: Eye misalignment stays the same throughout full range of gaze

Until recently, the only treatment for acute comitant esotropia has been traditional strabismus (misaligned eye) surgery.

But more recently, injection of medical-grade botulinum toxin (Botox) has been used to correct esotropia.

So, how do you know if Botox injection is appropriate for correcting your child’s esotropia? Dr. David Hunter, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, answers questions about the differences between strabismus surgery and Botox injection.

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