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Specialty Care

The Department of Ophthalmology at BMC offers a wide range of diagnostic evaluations and treatments for the full range of pediatric eye diseases and for adults with strabismus or misalignment of the eyes. Our multidisciplinary team specializes in the assessment of vision issues and eye alignment, eye muscle surgery, pediatric cataract evaluation and surgery, and a variety of other services.  In addition to three fellowship-trained pediatric ophthalmologists, our team includes a pediatric optometrist and an orthoptist.

We offer routine visits at our clinic by appointment and are also available 24/7 for emergency eye care.

Commonly treated conditions include:

  • Amblyopia (poor vision)
  • Eyelid and orbit abnormalities
  • Genetic inherited and metabolic disorders
  • Pediatric cataracts
  • Pediatric glaucoma
  • Pediatric neuro-ophthalmology
  • Refractive error
  • Strabismus (misalignment of the eyes)
  • Tearing problems

Program Overview

The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory provides experienced and coordinated care to patients with a variety of cardiac problems. A five-bed holding room admits patients who are in need of urgent or emergency procedures without delay. A dedicated cardiac interventional unit is staffed by attending physicians, physician assistants and nurses familiar with the specific needs of patients undergoing catheterization. This setting fosters optimal patient education before and after the procedure. Patients learn about their specific disease, risk factors, treatment and prevention strategies, and necessary lifestyle changes.

Known for providing excellent care, the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory uses the latest technology and meticulous techniques to diagnose and treat cardiac disease. Our patients and their families appreciate our immediate service, ongoing communication with the primary care physician and cardiologist, and our focus on patient education.

Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Disease)

Coronary Artery Disease, or Heart Disease, occurs when a buildup of hard deposits or plaque clogs the arteries that supply blood to the face and front part of the brain. As a result, the arteries thicken and harden, slowing blood flow and increasing a patient's risk for stroke. Approximately one-third of the more than 600,000 strokes in the United States are the result of blockages in the carotid arteries.

Boston Medical Center has been a leader in the performance of primary angioplasty, the procedure to open blocked arteries in patients suffering from a heart attack. It has been shown that the faster the artery is opened and blood flow is restored to the heart muscle, the better the chance of recovery. The CVC's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory staff provides primary angioplasty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year to improve outcomes in heart attack victims, with a 90-minute “door to balloon” time.

Treatments

Several approaches are used to diagnose and treat heart disease prior to referring a patient to the CVC. An exercise stress test or echocardiogram may confirm the diagnosis of a specific disorder. Patients who have no symptoms, or very mild and stable symptoms, may be treated with medications only. However, patients are referred to the CVC for cardiac catheterization and coronary angiogram to assess the extent of the problem if their symptoms worsen or if they are severe. In patients with significant blockages in the coronary arteries, coronary angioplasty may be recommended. Alternatively, in patients with multiple blockages, coronary artery bypass surgery may be the procedure of choice.

Treatment Procedures

For patients who are candidates for coronary angioplasty, the CVC offers multiple types of procedures using the latest technology. The specific procedure recommended is determined by the type and location of each coronary artery blockage.

Balloon angioplasty

In balloon angioplasty, a catheter with a small balloon on its tip is inserted into the blockage site. Once there, the balloon is inflated in the artery to flatten or compress the plaque against the artery wall.

Stent placement

A stent is a small, mesh tube that is placed inside the blockage site via a catheter. The stent’s purpose is to hold the artery open and keep it from closing again. It becomes a permanent part of your artery.

Patients who experience re-narrowing within a previously placed stent may be required to undergo intravascular brachytherapy, which requires application of radiation to the affected part of the artery after the angioplasty or stent insertion.

Contact Us

Call (617) 638-8702 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Overview

An arrhythmia is condition in which the heart beats with an irregular or abnormal rhythm. This is sometimes felt as a “fluttering” in the chest or described the heart “skipping a beat”. A heartbeat is coordinated by electrical impulses. In some cases, the electrical impulses don’t work properly, causing the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly.

The Arrhythmia Center at Boston Medical Center has specially trained electrophysiologists on staff equipped to diagnose and treat all types heart arrhythmias, specializing in the following: 

Evaluation of syncope (fainting) and palpitations

Ablation

Ablation is a way to fix an arrhythmia and get your heart to beat normally. A catheter is inserted into your vein and guided to the heart muscle.  The tip of the catheter delivers a burst of energy that destroys the very small areas of heart tissue that are causing the arrhythmia.

Pacemaker and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
These implantable devices are used to correct an abnormally slow or fast heart rhythm. They sense the heartbeat and turn on when regulation is necessary. These devices can also coordinate the contraction of the heart's pumping chambers to increase the efficiency of the heart and improve congestive heart failure symptoms.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, which causes it to become weakened and unable to pump blood effectively. Cardiomyopathy is a major cause of heart failure and one of the most common conditions leading to heart transplantation.

There are three types of cardiomyopathy:

  • In dilated cardiomyopathy, the left ventricle becomes enlarged and does not pump as efficiently.
  • In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy the heart muscle is abnormally thick, affecting the heart's ability to pump blood.
  • In restrictive cardiomyopathy the heart becomes rigid and can't properly fill with blood between heartbeats.

The Cardiovascular Center at BMC offers expertise in medical and interventional treatment for cardiomyopathy/heart failure. Our specialized team coordinates the evaluation and care for patients with this condition. Working with primary care physicians and community-based cardiologists, the team offers a wide range of options, including new pharmacologic and surgical treatments. Through comprehensive, long-term management, the goal is to minimize the frequency and impact of complications to maximize each patient’s productivity and quality of life.

Diagnosis and Evaluation

The diagnosis and evaluation of suspected cardiomyopathy typically starts with a consultation with a heart failure specialist, and includes a detailed history and physical examination, as well as an electrocardiogram, chest X-ray and blood tests. In most cases the next step involves a non-invasive assessment of heart size and function, typically by echocardiography, and in some cases by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging. Additional studies that may provide important information include an exercise stress test and/or nuclear scans of the heart. In some cases further invasive studies may be helpful including cardiac catheterization and electrophysiologic evaluation.

Treatment

Once the cause of heart failure in a patient is determined, a customized medical treatment program is designed based on guideline-validated therapies. If correctable causes are identified, there may be specific treatment to treat hypertension or address coronary artery or valvular disease. Typical medical therapy includes a diuretic (medication to control fluid accumulation and a beta-blocker (a medication to reduce blood pressure). In some cases additional drugs may be indicated or preferred.

Investigational Therapies

The CVC program is involved in the discovery and development of new therapies for cardiomyopathy and heart failure. Boston University School of Medicine played a key role in the development of current day standard therapies including beta-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and aldosterone antagonists. BMC has access to novel investigational therapies, often years before they are available on the market, and are able to use these agents in selected patients who meet the criteria for their use.

Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs) and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)

The Cardiomyopathy Team works closely with the Electrophysiology Team to determine the need for devices that can decrease the risk abnormal cardiac rhythms (ICDs) and/or to improve the synchronization of the walls of the heart (CRTs). These devices can be life-saving and lead to improved outcomes in many patients with cardiomyopathy.

Amyloidosis pertains to a group of diseases caused by the abnormal folding and then accumulation of protein in various parts of the body. Sometimes, these proteins are deposited in the heart resulting in cardiac amyloidosis. Cardiac amyloidosis is thought to be a rare disease, however, recent advances in diagnostic testing developed at Boston Medical Center in collaboration with other experts across the world suggest that it is likely more common than is presently appreciated.

BMC is an international referral center for the diagnosis and treatment of systemic amyloid diseases. BMC is one of the few hospitals nationwide that offers innovative treatments for amyloidosis, including stem cell transplantation for light-chain (AL) amyloidosis, with numerous ongoing clinical trials for all types of amyloidosis. The Amyloidosis Center, founded in 1960, employs a multidisciplinary approach to this disorder that frequently affects multiple organ systems. Cardiologists diagnose and treat the damage amyloidosis can cause to the heart and coordinate innovative care with other specialists at BMC.

Areas of active clinical research relevant to cardiac amyloidosis include cardiac imaging that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear imaging (using the pyrophosphate or PYP scan), studies examining the biochemical basis of amyloid toxicity, and projects examining the best treatment of patients with cardiac amyloidosis.

For further information regarding the program or ongoing research studies, or to refer a patient with amyloidosis, please contact the program office at 617.638.4317 or visit the Amyloid Center Webpage.

The Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Medical Center (BMC) has provided outstanding cardiac surgical care to our patients since the 1940s. One of the first departments of its kind in the United States, BMC surgeons offer a full range of interventions from traditional surgery to newer, minimally invasive procedures. Bypassing blocked arteries, repairing or replacing heart valves, and correcting cardiac defects and aortic aneurysms are just a few of the life-saving procedures for which they are known.

Blood travels into the heart through arteries.  Through diet, age, and genetics, arteries can become narrower than they should be because of plaque, a sticky substance that builds up over time. When plaque loosens and breaks off, a blood clot forms, which can block blood flow to your heart, resulting in chest pain or heart attack. One way to restore normal blood flow to the heart  is through an operation called coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) to restore blood flow to the heart.

During a CABG, the surgeon uses a piece of artery or vein from another part of the patient's body to reroute blood around the blockage. Traditional CABG requires the surgeon to open the chest by separating the breast bone and stopping the heart and lungs.  When the heart and lungs are stopped, the patient is on a heart-lung bypass machine, which keeps oxygenated blood flowing through the body without passing through the heart and lungs.

Sometimes, the surgery can be performed without stopping the heart and lungs. This is called beating heart surgery, or off-pump CABG. The patient is given medication to slow the heart rate during the procedure and the surgeon uses special tools that stabilize and position the heart to provide access to the blocked arteries. With one part of the heart stabilized, the surgeon can perform the bypass while the rest of the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the patient's body.  Compared to traditional CABG, the benefits this procedure offers include a less likely need for blood transfusion, less risk of bleeding, stroke, or kidney failure, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery times.

Transmyocardial laser revascularization (also called TMR) is a treatment for patients with coronary artery disease who have not responded to or are not eligible for procedures such as angioplasty and stenting, medication, and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.  For these patients, this surgical procedure is used to relieve angina (chest pain) that is generally caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the heart.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the left side of the chest and uses a special laser to create channels in the heart muscle which will improve blood flow. A computer directs the laser beams to the appropriate area of the heart in between heartbeats, which helps prevent electrical disturbances

The advantage of TMR is that it provides a last-resort option to patients with severe angina (chest pain). It can be especially effective in patients with other conditions - such as diabetes – that make it impossible to do bypass surgery. Although clinical data are still somewhat limited, 80 to 90 percent of patients have seen significant improvement in their symptoms (at least a 50 percent improvement) at one-year follow up. A New England Journal of Medicine study concluded that patients who had TMR had relief of chest pain as well as improved quality-of-life, improved blood flow to the heart, and decreased hospital admissions.

The Maze procedure, also sometimes called the Cox-Maze procedure, is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is the most common irregular heart rhythm in the United States, and it originates in the atria, or the heart's upper chambers. With AF, a risk factor for stroke, the electrical signal that normally causes the heart’s atria to contract in an orderly fashion circles through the heart muscles in an uncoordinated manner, causing the heart to quiver rapidly.

To perform the surgery, the surgeons deflates the right lung to gain access to the heart and the patient breathes through the left lung and a ventilator. Once three small incisions are made in the right side of the chest, a video camera and small instruments are inserted. Through catheters (small, thin tubes), radiofrequency energy is applied in the atria muscle in an intricate "maze" pattern, and scars form when these areas heal. Because scars do not carry electrical signals, they interrupt the conduction of abnormal impulses and allow the heart to return to a regular, coordinated beat. This procedure has an overall success rate of approximately 90 percent - and post-procedure freedom from stroke has been estimated at 99 percent.

The advantages of minimally invasive Maze are:

  • It can cure atrial fibrillation;
  • It cures afib without the invasiveness of the standard surgical method;
  • Less recovery time and less risk of complications;
  • Many require no further treatment and do not need medications such as blood thinners; and
  • It reduces the risk of stroke and blood clots as well as symptoms such as fainting.

A thoracic aortic aneurysm occurs when the aorta, a larger artery shaped like a cane that that feeds blood to the body, has a weakened area near the heart.  The weakened area balloons our, causing blood that should flow through the artery to pool and become stuck in the ballooned area.  Left untreated, the aneurysm can rupture, or pop, causing death. Traditional surgery involving open the chest is the main treatment, especially if the aneurysm has grown large or is causing symptoms. But a less invasive approach is also available. 

Boston Medical Center's cardiac vascular surgeons specialize in the minimally invasive treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms.  To repair the aneurysm, a thoracic aortic graft is used.  The graft is inserted through a small incision in the groin area and fed up to the aneurysm location. This graft form a tight seal with the healthy artery above and below the aneurysm.  This restores normal blood flow through the artery and eventually the aneurysm shrinks. Advantages to treatment with a graft include:

  • Minimal scarring at that site of insertion;
  • Fewer complications;
  • Shorter stay in the intensive care unit;
  • Shorter hospital stay; 
  • Quicker recovery time; and
  • Faster return to normal activities.

The heart has four valves inside of it (aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid) whose job are to push blood from one part of the heart to another. Sometimes, these valves do not function properly.  This occurs most frequently with the aortic and mitral valves.  When that happens, surgeons work to repair or replace the valves.  When valves need to be replaced, surgeons use either tissue or titanium mechanical valves, depending on the patient’s diagnosis and medical history.

For patients with aortic valve disease, a new procedure called a TAVR may be an option. TAVR or transcatheter aortic valve replacement, replaces the faulty valve without removing it.  Performed in a specially equipped procedure room, an incision is made in the patient’s groin and then a catheter with a replacement valve is threaded up into the heart and the new valve is placed.  This procedure is excellent for patients who need an aortic valve replacement but whose health cannot tolerate a traditional, open heart surgery.

The heart is made up of four chambers, two called atria and two called ventricles.  A ventricular aneurysm occurs when one of the ventricles has a weakening and is expanded and bulged like a balloon.  This is a serious side effect that can occur after a heart attack.  It happens when, after a heart attack, scar tissue forms which can then calcify, causing complications. Symptoms generally include shortness of breath, chest pain, or heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias). If left untreated, ventricular aneurysm can lead to heart failure or dangerous blood clotting.

When a patient is diagnosed with a ventricular aneurysm, cardiac surgeons open the chest, remove the weakened area of the ventricle wall, and sew the walls of the ventricle back together. Aneurysm repair is often followed by medication therapy. This procedure is important because it cures the aneurysm and reduces the potential for heart failure and blood clots.

Holistic Medicine - Integrative Health

Introduction

Holistic Care or Integrative Medicine combines conventional medical treatment, complementary therapies, and lifestyle changes.  It encourages a compassionate, healing relationship between patients and caregivers.  Integrative Medicine views the whole person – mind, body, and spirit.

Conventional medicine is a term that describes health care carried out by licensed medical doctors and by allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, registered nurses, and psychologists.  This type of health care is familiar to most people – it is the routine and established treatments that are carried out everyday in hospitals and clinics in the United States.  Conventional treatments may include prescription medication, x-rays, surgical procedures, physical, and occupational therapy.

Complementary therapies include yoga, massage, acupuncture, herbal therapy, dietary supplements, meditation, hypnosis, chi gung, tai chi, and reiki. Historically, complementary therapies were not part of conventional medicine; however, certain therapies are becoming more common in health care today because knowledge and research about their effectiveness continues to grow. 

Started in 2004, the Program for Integrative Medicine and Health Care Disparities at Boston Medical Center is committed to evidence-based practices. Our multidisciplinary team is composed of highly qualified:

  • Physicians
  • Massage Therapists
  • Acupuncturists
  • Class instructors

Your first appointment will be a time to meet with a provider and discuss your current health and understand any past medical issues, develop a plan with you that incorporates both integrative therapies and conventional medicine, and recommend you for a follow up appointment or refer you to integrative medicine services (massage, yoga, acupuncture, etc.) as needed.  This appointment will be 40 minutes long and will take place in the Family Medicine Clinic on the 5th floor of the Yawkey building.

At Boston Medical Center (BMC), caring for patients is a collaborative, multidisciplinary process. BMC’s Cancer Care Center organizes its services around each patient, bringing together the expertise of diverse specialists to manage care from the first consultation through treatment and follow-up visits. The Cancer Care Center is dedicated to providing treatment that is effective and innovative in curing and controlling cancer, while managing its impact on quality-of-life.

As the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine, BMC combines personal, patient-focused care with the state-of-the-art-expertise and technological advances of a major teaching hospital. BMC is at the forefront of clinical practice, surgical expertise, and research in oncology.

Patients with kidney cancer, also called renal cell carcinoma (RCC), work with a urologist who takes the lead in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment planning of individual patients. Surgery is usually the first treatment for patients with malignant kidney tumors. 

The surgeons at BMC offer state-of-the-art surgical treatment and have extensive experience with using laparoscopic and robotic techniques to operate on kidneys. In fact, they performed some of the earliest such cases in the Boston area. When possible, the surgeons perform a partial nephrectomy, which involves removing only part of the kidney rather than a total radical nephrectomy, in which the entire kidney is removed. 

The BMC team follows the National Cancer Institute and the American Urological Association guidelines for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. 

What is Kidney Cancer?

Kidney cancer begins in the kidneys. Each of the two kidneys are about the size of an adult fist, bean-shaped and weigh around 150 grams each. One kidney is located at each side of the backbone, just under the rib cage. They are protected from injury by a large padding of fat, the lower ribs, and several muscles.

The kidneys play a major role in maintaining general health and wellbeing. Their purpose is to continuously sort non-recyclable waste from recyclable waste in the body while also cleaning the blood. The kidneys make urine from excess fluid and unwanted chemicals or waste in the blood.

Kidney cancer is caused by the abnormal growth of cells in the kidneys. Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) make up approximately 90% of kidney cancer cases. Other types of kidney cancers include:

  • Transitional cell carcinoma, or kidney pelvis cancer which begins in the lining of the kidney pelvis
  • Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma), the most common cancer in children 14 and under
  • Renal sarcoma, which is rare, develops in the soft tissue of the kidney

According to the American Cancer Society, kidney is the ninth most common cancer in the United States, accounting for approximately 3.7% of new cancer cases in 2016. Among men, the kidneys and renal pelvis (combined) is one of the top 10 cancer sites, and the seventh most common cancer.

Causes of Kidney Cancers

There are several risk factors of kidney cancer, including gender, age, race, and lifestyle choices. Men are nearly twice as likely to develop RCC as women. Kidney cancer is typically found in people age 50-75, with the average age of diagnosis being 64. The risk of developing the disease is slightly higher for African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives than for Caucasians.

Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Exposure to certain substances in the workplace
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain genetic and hereditary conditions (such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, and others)
  • Family history of the disease
  • Advanced kidney disease

Symptoms of Kidney Cancer

Early kidney cancers do not usually cause any signs or symptoms, but larger ones may. Some possible signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Lower back pain on one side
  • Blood in the urine
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms, however, can be caused by other benign diseases.

Diagnosis

Because kidney cancer is usually asymptomatic, the tumor is usually found when a patient undergoes a medical test for another reason.  Still, a doctor may order the following tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Staging

Staging is the process of determining how extensive the cancer is. It is an important part of diagnosis because the stage determines the most appropriate course of treatment options. The stages of kidney cancer range from Stage I (the least severe stage) to Stage IV. When patients are confirmed to have kidney cancer, the doctor will discuss the staging.

Stage I The tumor is 7 cm or smaller and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs.

Stage II The tumor is larger than 7 cm and is only located in the kidney. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs.

Stage III Either of these conditions:

  • A tumor of any size is located only in the kidney. It has spread to the regional lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body.
  • The tumor has grown into major veins or perinephric tissue and may or may not have spread to regional lymph nodes. It has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage IV Either of these conditions:

  • The tumor has spread to areas beyond Gerota's fascia—the layer of connective tissue compressing the kidneys and the adrenal glands—and extends into the adrenal gland—small glands located on top of each kidney that produce hormones—on the same side of the body as the tumor, possibly to lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
  • The tumor has spread to any other organ, such as the lungs, bones, or the brain.

Treatment

When a person is diagnosed with kidney cancers, a team of doctors will meet and determine the right treatment plan for that patient.  Typically, the plan includes some combination of the following:

  • Active surveillance
  • Minimally invasive or open surgery
  • Ablative therapies (Radiofrequency ablation, cryotherapy, and other energy based treatments)
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Treatments in Terms of Stage:

Stage IA: Usually requires surgery with a partial nephrectomy (generally through robotic or laparoscopic partial nephrectomy) being performed.  Active surveillance with serial imaging is performed in select patients, and radiofrequency ablation is performed for nonsurgical candidates who require treatment.

Stage IB: Partial or radical nephrectomy is generally performed, but whenever possible partial is performed.   

Stage II: Most patients undergo radical nephrectomy, though in select patients partial nephrectomy is performed. 

Stage III: Radical nephrectomy is performed.  In certain patients with renal cell carcinoma with blood clots in the vena cava—a large vein carrying deoxygenated blood into the heart—removal of the tumor and thrombus are performed.

Stage IV, or for recurrence: Patients are treated with immunotherapy and/or chemotherapy, or a combination of surgery and immunotherapy)

It can be difficult for individuals to tell if they are suffering from allergies or have a more serious condition like chronic sinusitis.  At Boston Medical Center, the physicians who care for these conditions work with each patient individually to come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. 

Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic rhinosinusitis, or sinusitis, is a common medical condition affecting about 10-15% of people. Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • headaches
  • facial pain
  • dental pain
  • bad smell in the nose
  • nasal blockage and or nasal drainage
  • fatigue
  • reduced sense of smell

Diagnosing Chronic Sinusitis

To determine if a patient has chronic sinusitis, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask about symptoms.  An X-Ray or CT scans will also be done to look inside the sinuses. In addition, the doctor might look inside the patient’s nose with a small camera for signs of disease that can’t be seen from the outside.

Treating Chronic Sinusitis

Treatment of sinusitis often requires multiple different medications. Depending on what the doctor finds, this may include nasal sprays, antibiotics, steroids, or salt water rinses. Sometimes, severe cases may benefit from surgery to open their sinuses and allow them to drain properly.

Allergic Rhinitis (also known as Hay Fever or Allergies)

Similarly to chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis is a common medical condition. It affects about 30% people. Symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • rashes
  • puffy eyes
  • watery eyes
  • nasal blockage
  • nasal drainage
  • throat clearing
  • voice and swallowing difficulty
  • fatigue
  • decreased sense of smell

Diagnosing Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is diagnosed by a combination of symptoms and examination findings. The doctor may also wish to perform allergy testing with a scratch test or blood draw. 

Treating Allergic Rhinitis

Treatment of allergy is done on a patient to patient basis. This may involve nasal sprays, and allergy medications, methods for avoiding exposure, and allergy shots or allergy drops. Allergy shots and drops involves giving patients small amounts of what they are allergic to and building it up over time until they no longer have symptoms from exposure. 

Locations

BMC Rhinology Clinic
Moakley Building
830 Harrison Avenue, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02118
617.638.8124

Charles River Medical Practice
930 Commonwealth Avenue 
Boston, MA 02215
617.414.6800

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, genetic blood disorder which causes painful attacks (sickle cell crises) that can be difficult for patients to manage. Patients with SCD over their lifetime can have problems which affect practically every part of the body.  SCD changes normal, round red blood cells into ones shaped like crescent or half-moons. Normally, healthy red blood cells carry oxygen through the body. However, people with SCD do not have enough normal cells to carry the right amount of oxygen. This causes the sickled cells to get stuck and block blood vessels, which stops the oxygen from getting through the body and causes a lot of pain. When there is a blockage, the hands, feet, abdomen, back, or chest are affected.

Along with pain, symptoms of SCD can include fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, paleness or jaundice, swelling of the hands or feet, and an increased rate of infections. Sometimes, SCD can lead to damage of many organs throughout the body, delayed growth, vision problems, and strokes. 

Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease 

Sickle cell disease can be diagnosed by a blood test. Every state requires that all babies, before they leave the hospital, are tested for SCD as part of their newborn screening. 

Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease 

Treatment of young patients usually includes antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age to help prevent infections. Children and adults should be seen regularly in the outpatient clinic to assess for symptoms, screen for complications of the disease and promote general health and well-being.  We recommend appropriate immunizations across the lifespan. Many patients living with SCD experience pain on a daily basis and using the right combination of therapies can help to treat this.  Developing a pain management plan with a physician or pain management specialist is encouraged at the center. 

Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease

BMC’s Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease is the largest center of its kind in New England, serving more than 450 patients annually, from newborns to adults. The center’s multidisciplinary team is committed to providing patients across their lifespan with highly personalized care to manage their symptoms associated with the disease so they can live as normal a life as possible.

The SCD team includes physicians and a nurse practitioner from pediatric and adult hematology, adult and pediatric primary care, and other specialties as well as nurses, social workers, case management and a patient navigator to help guide patients through their care. The program focuses on providing consistent care between the Emergency Department, inpatient services, and outpatient clinics.  The program utilizes the pediatric STAR unit and the Infusion Center in the adult Hematology/Oncology clinic for outpatient transfusions and pain management. 

Features of the Center

Locations and Hours

BMC Adult SCD Clinic
Moakley Building
830 Harrison Avenue, Suite 3200
Boston, MA 02120
617.414.6428

Monday to Friday: 8:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.

BMC Pediatric SCD Clinic
Yawkey Center 
Pediatric Specialty Clinics, 5th floor 
850 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
617.414.4841
To reach the Pediatric Hematologist on call, phone 617.414.5000 and page #5731. 

Monday to Friday: 8:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.

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