MAKO: A New Option
to Restore Your Knees

Our knees and hips keep us
moving. Unfortunately, they also
wear out with time,...

read more

Be Stroke Smart: A Quick
Way to Recognize Stroke

Do you know what medical condition
leaves more Americans disabled
than anything else?...

read more

Save Your Child
from the Sun

More than 60,000 Americans will
be diagnosed with melanoma - the
most common form of skin cancer...

read more

Soup Up Your Diet
with Super Foods!

If you're looking to kick start
your nutritional intake, look no
further than super foods!...

read more

Understanding Your Breasts

It is important for us to understand
our breast. Being familiar with
our breast is a big part of...

read more


MAKO: A New Option to Restore Your Knees

By Paul Sasaura, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon


Our knees and hips keep us moving. Unfortunately, they also wear out with time, producing the joint pain and stiffness that so many of us experience as we age. In fact, 46% of people will develop osteoarthritis of the knee at some point in their lifetime.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease in which healthy joint tissue breaks down, losing the cushion between the bones and leaving you with bone-against-bone friction. This can be quite painful and limit your physical activity. Typically, patients are recommended non-operative treatments first, including weight loss, nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs and changes in activity.

Many cases of knee osteoarthritis are unresponsive to nonsurgical treatments, leaving surgery as the patient's only option for relief. However, in the past, many patients have decided against surgery because of the lengthy recovery times, but that is changing, thanks to MAKO. The MAKO system is an exciting innovation that resurfaces your knee (and can also be used on hips). MAKO can help patients back on their feet faster - and in Sacramento, MAKOplasty® is available exclusively through the Dignity Health hospitals.

MAKO is an excellent option for end-stage osteoarthritis limited to one or two compartments of the knee. Prior to the MAKO procedure, your physician will use sophisticated imaging and software to build a 3-D reconstruction of your joint. This not only provides a blueprint for a customized patient-specific implant, it also allows the surgeon to position and align the implant with pinpoint accuracy. This is crucial to ensure comfort, natural motion and implant longevity.

Unlike traditional knee surgery, the MAKO system removes only the arthritic tissue. An implant replaces the lost bone tissue, providing a smooth artificial surface with a shape and fit customized precisely to the patient's unique anatomy. This procedure is performed through a small incision, which helps speed the healing process. During the procedure, a surgeon-operated robotic arm provides incredible precision for the surgeon to place the implants.

The benefits to MAKO include:

  • Optimally positioned implants allowing for a natural-feeling knee

  • Performed through a smaller incision than required for total knee replacement surgery

  • Only the arthritic portion is removed, preserving healthy bone and tissue and sparing all of the knee ligaments

  • Minimal hospitalization, rapid recovery

  • Less implant wearing

  • You have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.

MAKOplasty knee resurfacing patients are encouraged to walk the same day of surgery and in many cases, return to normal daily activities with in a couple of weeks.

Learn more about Dr. Sasaura and Summit Orthopedics here. If you would like to learn more about MAKO and other options for your arthritic joints, attend one of our upcoming informational events. Learn more here.

Return to top


Be Stroke Smart: A Quick Way to Recognize Stroke

By Asad Chaudhary, MD, Neurologist

Do you know what medical condition leaves more Americans disabled than anything else? Believe it or not, stroke is the leading cause of disability among American adults and the fourth leading cause of death. Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke and every 3 minutes someone dies of a stroke. May is National Stroke Awareness Month - an opportunity to learn how to reduce your risk of stroke and to recognize when someone around you may be having a stroke.

First, it is important to note that if you are experiencing foot pain, you should see your doctor. Foot pain left untreated can cause many problems. And often foot pain can be a sign of an underlying problem. Report your symptoms to your physician and let him or her examine your feet to help determine the problem.

Know your Risks

There are some non-modifiable stroke risk factors: age (risk of stroke doubles with each decade after age 55); hereditary (risk of stroke increases if a parent, grandparent or sibling had a stroke); race (African Americans have increased risk of stroke compared to Caucasians); gender (stroke is more common in men than women); prior stroke or heart attack (risk is much greater if you have a history of previous stroke or heart attack). However, there are many modifiable risk factors for stroke that you can change - and addressing them can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke. These include:

  • Blood pressure control

  • Quit smoking

  • Lower your cholesterol

  • Modify your diet, lower salt intake and increase fiber intake.

  • Exercise and stay active (brisk walking, jogging or running) for at least 30 minutes on most days

Act F.A.S.T

It is very important to recognize stroke symptoms early-- the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association have developed an easy way to help the general public remember the warning signs of stroke - F.A.S.T.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is numb?

Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is there speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to recognize the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke. When you can identify these signs, you can act quickly to call 9-1-1 for help. This is very important because most strokes need early treatment, so the sooner a person gets to the hospital; the sooner they can be treated. Since in stroke TIME IS BRAIN this can make a difference between recovery or no recovery.

In addition to the common stroke symptoms described in F.A.S.T., the following can also be symptoms of stroke: sudden numbness or weakness of leg, sudden trouble with vision, sudden trouble walking or dizziness, sudden gait instability with loss of balance and coordination or sudden severe headache of unknown cause.

When you suspect stroke - act quickly, do not delay. Call 911 immediately.

It is important for people having a stroke to be transported to a certified Primary Stroke Center, where they can receive early and quick treatment to save their brain function. All six of the Sacramento area hospitals in the Dignity Health Neurological Institute (Mercy General, Mercy San Juan, Methodist, Mercy Folsom, Sierra Nevada Memorial and Woodland Hospital) have been nationally recognized by the Joint Commission as Primary Stroke Centers. In addition, in 2004, Mercy General Hospital and Mercy San Juan Medical Center became two of the first hospitals in the state to earn The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care by demonstrating that their stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients. To learn more about the Dignity Health Neurological Institute's commitment to stroke care, visit our website

Return to top


Save Your Child from the Sun

By James Cafarella, MD, Pediatrician


More than 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma - the most common form of skin cancer-this year. Doctors are seeing younger and younger patients diagnosed with skin cancer and there seems to be a connection between childhood sun exposure and skin cancer in adulthood. While your kids are outside enjoying the benefits of gorgeous sunshine - filled spring days, it is critical that they are also protected from the less desirable effects of the sun and its powerful rays.

Having just a few serious sunburns during their childhood can increase your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. It's important to remember that kids don't just get sun exposure at the pool and beach or while on vacation - they are exposed to the sun's rays whenever they are outside, even when the skies are cloudy and it's not that warm. Our skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors.

Obviously one of the most effective ways to protect your child's skin is to keep it out of direct sunlight. You can do this by simply staying inside during the midday, when the rays are strongest (10 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m.) or by having your child take cover under an umbrella or pop-up tent. Of course clothing can also provide a barrier, especially swimwear made with specially treated fabric that blocks the sun's rays. But even with shade and clothing available, it's best to double up your protection and apply sunscreen as well.

Children should also wear a hat that protects not only their scalp but also their ears and neck. While most of us put little sunhats on our children while they are infants, hat-wearing usually diminishes as the child ages. The ears and the scalp are prime areas for sunburn and should be protected. Baseball hats, while popular with older kids, leave their ears exposed and are not sufficient. If your child will only wear a baseball cap, offer a compromise and insist on applying sunscreen to their ears, then.

Another area often left unprotected on children is the eyes. Children should wear sunglasses with lens that provide protection from UV rays, which can cause cataracts later in life. This is especially important when you are at a place where the sun glare is significant - such as the ski slope, beach or pool. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

Finally, the most important protection you can provide your children is the consistent use of sunscreen. Your child should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection every time he or she goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply after swimming and at least every couple hours. Don't forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.

Enjoy the gorgeous Northern California spring time weather with your children, but keep them protected from the sun. A little bit of caution now can preserve your child's health and well-being into adulthood.

To find a pediatrician to care for your children's health, visit our physician finder.

Return to top


Soup Up Your Diet with Super Foods!



If you're looking to kick start your nutritional intake, look no further than super foods! A super food is a food source that is packed with higher nutrients per calorie as compared to other foods. These foods are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

So what qualifies as a super food? Well, the term super food is not precisely defined, but one thing they all have in common is they're "real" - meaning they are unprocessed foods. Here is a sampling of ten super foods which will super benefits to your life!

  1. Blueberries rich in fiber and vitamin C; high levels of antioxidants

  2. Oats look for the word "whole" listed with the first ingredient; bread products should have at least 3g per serving of fiber

  3. Omega 3s lower heart disease; help arthritis; can lower cholesterol

  4. Raw Cacao dark chocolate before its been processed and sweetened, filled with iron, magnesium and fiber

  5. Red Wine rich in antioxidants and high levels of resveratrol, which can reduce cancer risk

  6. Soy lowers cholesterol

  7. Spinach provides fiber and calcium

  8. Sweet Potatoes high in fiber, helps breakdown glucose in bloodstream

  9. Tea both black and green varieties provide antioxidants

  10. Tomatoes source of fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C

There are also a few super foods that are of particular benefit to women. These include:

  1. Bison (buffalo meat) less fatty than beef, good for health and energy levels

  2. Papaya potassium-packed, can off-set effects of sodium

  3. Collard Greens vitamins A, C and K, as well as folic acid

  4. Tofu calcium-rich and high in soy protein

  5. Flaxseed good weapon against breast cancer

While these power-packed foods can help you meet your daily nutritional needs, it is important to remember that you need a good balance of foods in your diet. Also, these foods can be prepared in ways that render them less than super, though. Beware of "healthy" cereals that contain more sugar than a doughnut or a breakfast bar that has more carbs than a serving of chocolate ice cream. Check the labels for sugar, salt, carbs and calorie content first.

An important aspect of improving - or maintaining - your health, is to visit your physician regularly. To find a primary care physician and schedule a physical, visit our physician finder.

Return to top


Understanding Your Breasts

By Kathryn Amirikia, MD


It is important for us to understand our breast. Being familiar with our breast is a big part of breast health. By performing our monthly breast self-exams, we learn to know what our breasts feel like and how they change over the course of our monthly cycle/life.

It is important for us to understand our breast. Being familiar with our breast is a big part of breast health. By performing our monthly breast self-exams, we learn to know what our breasts feel like and how they change over the course of our monthly cycle/life.

A woman's breast tissue changes in texture throughout her life. Knowing how your breast feels at the age of 15 is as important as knowing how it feels at the age of 70. Normal breast tissue is composed of fat and tissue that often extends into the underarm area. As a woman ages, fat deposits increase and collagen tissue decreases. Breast tissue also increases with change in body mass and pregnancy.

When you examine your breasts, be sure to specifically check the color of the breast, texture and area under the arm. Self breast exams should be done one week after your menstrual period, when the breast tissue is less tender and "lumpy" from hormonal changes occurring in between periods. If you are not menstruating or irregular, exams should be done once every month (set a date, such as the first Monday of every month).

When you perform your breast exam, remember to look as well as feel. Sit or stand in front of a mirror, then bend your arms and place your hands on your waist. Then lift your hands up and see if both of your breasts will "go up." There is cause for concern if one of the breasts is not moving easily.

Try to use two positions - for example, lying down and sit or stand in the shower. It's not important how you feel but keep in mind the pads (not the tips) of your fingers are the most sensitive. Try gently pushing your breast against the rib cage to feel if there are any lumps or hard spots. Draw a picture if needed. Remember that as you do your breast exams you will get more familiar with your breasts and notice important changes that may take place. The two most important factors in a good breast exam are: taking your time and covering your whole breast (go beyond where you think it ends) and pay attention to the nipple area as well.

Normal or Benign Breast Conditions:

  1. Tenderness: Most women's breasts feel tender and slightly larger before their menstrual period begins. This is normal.

  2. Nipple Discharge: Discharge from the nipple is normal during pregnancy. Sometimes a tight bra can cause friction and irritation that can lead to nipple discharge, but it should not be bloody. Certain medications may also lead to nipple discharge.

  3. Cysts are very common. About 7% to 10% of all women will develop a cyst during their lifetime. Breast cysts vary widely in size and number and larger cysts can often be felt.

  4. Fibrocystic breast disease is commonly described as "lumpy painful breasts" by patients. This condition occurs most often in women ages 30 to 50, one to two weeks prior to a menstrual period, ending with the period. The diagnosis is often confirmed by a biopsy.

  5. Fibroadenoma is the most common benign breast tumor occurring in younger women, typically under the age of 30. Tumor sizes can range from 1 to 5 cm, although some grow quite large.

  6. Pregnancy can cause breast infections (such as mastitis), breast engorgement (when breast milk has not been pumped) and local deep infections in the breast tissue (breast abscess). These benign conditions require pumping and sometimes antibiotics.

If you feel an unexplained change in your breast, please contact your physician right away. Do not self-treat or wait. Time can be precious when it comes to early diagnosis and treatment, so be pro-active for yourself and your loved ones.

To learn more about Dignity Health's services for women or to find a physician, visit our website.

Return to top