Month: November 2014

Staying Healthy This Thanksgiving


Celebrating Thanksgiving with family, friends, and loved ones is certainly something to look forward to, and perhaps this holiday, more than any other, is all about the food – so much so that we jokingly call it Turkey Day. If we only stopped with the low-fat, high-protein bird, the Thanksgiving feast wouldn’t be unhealthy at all. We don’t stop there, however. Usually there are sugar and fat-laden sides galore. This year, your Thanksgiving plate doesn’t have to completely derail your commitment to healthy eating and a healthful lifestyle.

If you are cooking, look for ways to make your meal healthy while still keeping everything delicious. There are many recipes that lighten up those old family traditional sides like green bean casserole and candied yams by simply decreasing the fats (butter, bacon grease, etc.) and/or replacing them with healthier options. Sweet potatoes are usually thought of as a smart option but not when dripping with syrup and marshmallows. Try roasting them and eating with a little salt and pepper instead. They are sweet and creamy without the extra calories! Serve whole grain rolls and have fresh fruit as a dessert option. There are so many easy ways to fill the table with a healthy yet delicious banquet.

Even if you are a guest and can’t control what goes into the dishes, you can make good choices and still have all of your favorites. If Aunt Bea’s corn pudding is your favorite dish, by all means, have some; moderation is the key. Skip over things like bread and other every-day items, and instead fill your plate with moderate amounts of the special holiday dishes. Choose white meat turkey, and be careful of dishes with creamy sauces and sugary syrups. They can be full of fat and added sugars. Drink lots of water and limit alcohol intake which is not only full of empty calories but can also lower your inhibitions and make it easier to over indulge.

Make Thanksgiving 2014 the best one yet by gathering with family and friends to eat, drink, and be merry. Be grateful for each other, and share a fabulous feast fit for a healthy you!

Hepatobiliary Disease: Defined and Explained

UntitledWhen you are diagnosed with gallstones, hepatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver, it’s doubtful that you are thinking of the whole system of which the liver and gallbladder are only single parts. While these are hardly insignificant parts, it may be helpful to understand that they are important cogs in a machine known as the hepatobiliary system. This system is essential for digestion and includes the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and the gallbladder.

Several ailments (hepatobiliary disease) can affect this system. Hepatobiliary disease includes a varied group of diseases of the liver and biliary system caused by viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, cysts and tumors, toxic chemicals, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, metabolic disorders, and cardiac failure. The two predominant diseases of the liver in the United States are viral hepatitis and cirrhosis; the predominant chronic disease of the biliary system is gallstones (cholelithiasis).

The liver is one of the largest organs in the human body and has many functions including:

  • Processing food and changing it into energy
  • Breaking down toxic substances in the body
  • Storing iron reserves, as well as vitamins and minerals
  • Creating bile, which aids in digestion

The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The two primary functions of the pancreas are to produce fluids to help break down food and to produce hormones that help control blood sugar levels.

The biliary tract consists of the gallbladder and duct system. After being produced by the liver, bile is secreted into the bile ducts and stored in the gallbladder. Bile aids in the digestion of fats.

Often hepatobiliary diseases require surgery as part of treatment. Dr. Matthew Johnson is a Las Vegas Board Certified Robotic Surgeon, specializing in hernia surgery, foregut surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. He also cares for patients in the fields of general surgery, trauma & acute care surgery, and critical care. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson to discuss your robotic surgery options, call his clinic at (702) 369-7152.

What is Acute Care Surgery?


As medicine changes and modernizes, new specialties arise. General surgery is seeing new fields emerge. One is acute care surgery. Acute care surgery is an evolving specialty with three essential components – trauma, critical care, and emergency surgery.  Acute care surgeons provide multidisciplinary care for patients who require emergency surgery because of an accident or sudden illness. This care continues throughout the patient’s hospitalization and following discharge.

These changes in surgery are in response to a number of forces. General surgeons are becoming increasingly more focused, especially in areas such as advanced laparoscopic surgery, bariatric (obesity) surgery, endovascular surgery, and breast surgery. With these areas of concentration, come less interest in being on call for emergencies (especially during “off” hours), which can interfere with other, non-emergency cases and office practice. In addition, many trauma surgeons wish to increase their operative case load because trauma care itself has become less involved with operative procedures.

As this specialty has grown, acute surgical emergencies often represent the most common reason for hospital admission. These conditions include, but are not limited to: acute appendicitis, cholecystitis or gallbladder disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction, intestinal ischemia, intra-abdominal sepsis, incarcerated hernias and perforated viscous.

Acute care surgery integrates the long-established field of trauma surgery with the management of general surgical emergencies. Traditionally, management of non-traumatic emergency conditions requiring surgery has been entrusted to both general surgeons and surgical subspecialists, depending on the supply and availability of these surgeons in each hospital, but as stated above, many surgeons are reluctant to take on-call responsibilities.

Dr. Matthew Johnson is board-certified in acute care surgery, general surgery, and critical care, as well as being a board-certified robotic surgeon. After completing his residency in general surgery, he then went on to become one of the early fellows in the country to complete an acute care surgery fellowship at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

General Surgery: Let’s Get Specific


General Surgery, despite its name, is a surgical specialty that focuses on abdominal organs including but not limited to the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts, and often the thyroid gland. General surgeons also deal with diseases involving the skin, breast, and hernias. These surgeons deal mainly in the torso, but they are trained to manage a broad spectrum of diseases and injuries affecting almost any area of the body that requires surgical intervention. In addition, they share a central core of knowledge common to all surgical specialties such as anatomy, physiology, metabolism, immunology, nutrition, pathology, wound healing, shock and resuscitation, intensive care, and benign and malignant growths.

These physicians are involved in diagnosis, preoperative, operative, and postoperative care of the surgical patient, and they are trained to provide comprehensive management of trauma and complete care of critically ill patients with underlying surgical conditions. The surgeon uses a variety of diagnostic techniques, including endoscopy, for observing internal structures, and may use specialized instruments during operative procedures. General surgeons rarely perform neurologic, orthopedic, thoracic, or urologic procedures, but they are familiar with other surgical specialties in order to know when to refer a patient to another specialist.

Laparoscopic surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, is one of the most common types of surgical techniques used by general surgeons today. Also, the use of robotic technology in surgery (which utilize automated machines to increase precision for particularly sensitive areas or difficult maneuvers) is a growing trend, and commonly used by Dr. Johnson.

Dr. Matthew Johnson is a Las Vegas Board Certified Robotic Surgeon, specializing in gallbladder surgery, hernia surgery, foregut surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. He also cares for patients in the fields of general surgery, trauma & acute care surgery, and critical care.

Acute Care: Making the Right Call


Defining acute is a good way to begin a discussion about acute care. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “a: characterized by sharpness or severity (acute pain) (an acute infection) b: (1): having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course (an acute disease) (an acute inflammation).” Therefore, acute care refers to addressing the needs of patients with an immediate/time-sensitive, short-term, medical issue. This includes all preventive, curative, rehabilitative or even palliative care when indicated.

As populations continue to grow and age, there is increasing demand for acute care services that can respond to life-threatening emergencies, acute problems of chronic illnesses, and many routine health problems that nevertheless require prompt action. The term acute care encompasses a range of clinical health-care functions, including emergency medicine, trauma care, pre-hospital emergency care, acute care surgery, critical care, urgent care, and short-term inpatient stabilization.

With this broad range of functions, how do you know where to go for medical care when you’re ill or injured? How do you decide whether to go an acute care doctor or the emergency room? If you think you’re experiencing a life-threatening or severe condition, it’s always best to call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Department. If appropriate, they will bring in or refer you to an acute care specialist.

Dr. Johnson was one of the early fellows in the country to complete an Acute Care Surgery fellowship at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, learning how to treat individuals with acute surgical needs, such as life-threatening injuries, acute appendicitis or strangulated hernias, and acute life- or limb-threatening medical and potentially surgical needs. He knows how to provide the best operative and post-operative care available for patients with a wide range of surgical problems including abdominal pain, gallbladder inflammation and stones, along with many other conditions. To learn more about acute care and the services Dr. Johnson offers email him at or call his clinic at (702) 369-7152.