Medical MondayL Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology


In Zika news, it has become clear that we do not yet know the length of time that Zika stays in the reproductive tract of a man. Thus, we do not now how long he may be able to transmit it sexually. 

In a recent poll, 73% of Americans feel Congress should pass the funding to fight the Zika virus as recommended by the Obama administration. However, reflecting a poor grasp of the situation, only 46% feel they need to pass it immediately. 

In the we already knew this department, ACOG ( American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has issued new evidence based guidelines to help prevent perineal lacerations. These include using episiotomy selectively, and well as using warm compresses before birth. 

SCOTUS ( Supreme Court of the United States) has struck down a restrictive Texas abortion law. This law would have required that abortions be provided at an ambulatory surgical center by a physician with hospital privileges. There is no scientific data saying that either of these elements is necessary for safety of the procedure, which is normally done in an office by a midlevel provider such as a nurse practitioner. Many abortion clinics would have had to close had this law stayed o the books. The Court ruled by a 5-3 vote largely along gender lines that these laws placed an undue burden to women seeking legal forms of health care. 

In other SCOTUS news, the Court has refused to hear a legal challenge to the Washington State rule that pharmacies must deliver all prescribed medications, even emergency contraception. This ends a nine year legal battle in which some pharmacists and a pharmacy refused to stock or fill the morning after pills. The Court voted 5 to 3 not to accept the case. Four Justices must agree to accept a case if it is to be heard. 

In the pendulum swings department, there are two items. First, Obs are giving serious consideration to the optimal time for delivery. In the past, 42 weeks was considered a reasonable time for induction. In my tenure, this has become 41 weeks. Now 39 weeks is under consideration. 

Secondly, women with a statistical risk of ovary cancer of 4% or more who is over 40 may be better off with her ovaries and tubes removed. When I finished residency in 1994, we encouraged women facing a hysterectomy to have the ovaries out as well if they were over 45. In recent years, this has become more of a patient choice. Now, we are refining this judgment to include family history and other risk factors in a statistical model to determine the best course, and it may favor removal of the ovaries earlier than previously recommended. 

Once again the USPTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) has cited the lack of evidence supporting the annual pelvic exam, and how it should be done only when symptoms are present. And yet, when examining their published statements, one sees that they do not highlight the fact that there has been nothing done to prove or disprove the utility of the exam either way. This is because doctors the world over have taken it as common sense to do the exam, thus no study has been done. The public should know that saying that there is no proof that something is not useful is NOT the same as saying that something has been proven TO BE not useful. Personally I find important things every week if not every day I do a pelvic exam, and that includes both speculum and bimanual exams. Furthermore, nobody is traumatized by their exam. Children and those with disabilities who need exams and who might be traumatized are examined with the aid of anesthesia supervision. 


Stay tuned next week for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.