Monday, April 4, 2016

Smithsonian Items

From the Smithsonian newsletter . . .

The Lazarus Phenomenon, Explained: 

Why Sometimes, the Deceased Are Not Dead, Yet

What does CPR have to do with the curious case of clinically dead patients coming “back to life”?

The article looks at what has been coined The Lazarus Phenomenon, after Lazarus of Bethany who, according to the Bible, died and was resurrected by Jesus 4 days later. The term refers to patients who appear to be clinically dead but sometimes spontaneously return to life. While the majority of these patients eventually succumb to death, as many as a third make a full recovery. According to several surveys, this may be more common than most people suspect due to under-reporting tied to legal concerns.

For centuries, people have had anxieties about incorrect death pronouncement and premature burials. In the 1800s, the fear of being buried alive, known as taphophobia, was so widespread that many people included provisions in their wills calling for tests to confirm death, such as pouring hot liquids on their skin or making surgical incisions. Others were buried with crowbars and shovels. This paranoia eventually led to a new class of “safety coffins” with breathing tubes and a variety of flags, bells or pyrotechnics that would allow anyone buried prematurely to signal passersby.

Auto-resuscitation in hospitals wasn't reported in medical literature until 1982. 

There have been over 40 cases of auto-resuscitation 1982 and all have involved attempts to revive using CPR. One theory is that rapid inflation of the lungs during CPR has limited blood flow back to the heart and induced cardiac arrest. Once the CPR stops, the blood starts flowing again and some time later the patient starts breathing again. Other theorists have speculated that the CPR prevents administered drugs reaching the heart and that cessation of CPR.

One specialist now recommends that physicians notify family members that CPR has been stopped and then monitor the patient for at least 10 to 15 minutes before declaring death. He found that out the hard way: he ceased CPR after 15 minutes on an elderly patient and one of his team then advised the family that the patient had died. A short time later the patient revived and the family sued, alleging that CPR had been stopped too early. He was successful in a defence by producing over 38 cases of The Lazarus Phenomenon from medical literature.


My favourite Lazarus cartoon. . . 


Stop Making Fun of Tyrannosaurs’ Tiny Arms

The stubby limbs may seem out of place, but they may have been key to the T. rex’s terrifying bite

The dreaded T Rex, the king of the dinosaurs, would be expected to have more impressive front legs with huge claws. Instead he has two little arms that everyone jokes about.

University of Southern California paleontologist Micahel Habib thinks that it is time for the laughter to stop. He contends that evolution may have allowed dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus to allot more space to the neck muscles that gave them devastating bites. According to Habib, “Keeping the bones around the chest and shoulder large, while reducing the forelimbs, provided more room for big neck muscles, which actually makes a lot of sense for predators that relied on large heads as their primary weapons.”

“The key bit isn’t that it had small arms, but that it had an enormous head! …That giant set of bone-crushing, muscle-rending jaws was made possible, in part, by having small arms.” And this, Habib says, “made T. rex a tougher animal, not a weaker one.”


Some T Rex arm cartoons . . .

And one that isn't to do with T Rex arms but funny, so I'm including it:

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