Case Notes

Dr Mark Porter investigates health issues of the day.

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Dr Graham Easton examines why drug availability differs around the country and why it can be so difficult to see the doctor when you want to.

Plus a look at the new ways to provide a fast-track treatment option when you are under the weather.


Dr Graham Easton puts listeners' questions about cancer to an expert panel, and reports on a new type of cancer conference in Nice where patients are encouraged to quiz the medics.


A guide to the human back and how to look after it.

Why do we suffer so much from back pain, how can we avoid it, and how can the health professionals help?


Graham Easton talks to migraine sufferers and investigates the latest treatments for this debilitating condition.


Looking after the health of the nation's children presents its own challenges.

Children often react to illness and treatment in a very different to adults.

How does the NHS cope?


Graham Easton explores the body's delicate blood clotting system.

When properly balanced it keeps our blood flowing through blood vessels but forms a clot within seconds when we cut ourselves.

When the balance is upset, we're at risk from serious blood clots or excessive bleeding.

Case Notes explores normal blood clotting, bleeding disorders such as Von Willebrand's disease, and the genetic defect in blood clotting that increases your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and is present in 5% of the population.


One third of the population mistakenly believe that an anaesthetist is not a doctor, but these highly trained specialists assess you before a major operation, keep you alive during surgery and monitor your recovery afterwards.

Dr Mark Porter follows an anaesthetist for a day to discover exactly what the job involves.


There's been a huge increase in the number of overweight people in the last 20 years.

A recent report from the Parliamentary All Party Group on Obesity stated that now about a quarter of the UK adult population is obese.

Despite knowing that carrying extra weight often leads to ill health, we all find it difficult to shed the pounds.

Dr Mark Porter explores the role of the medical profession in helping people to lose weight.


Feeling tired all the time is now such a common symptom that TATT has become an acronym.

In most cases standard tests for anaemia, thyroid or diabetes will identify the common causes, however there are other conditions that may be missed.

Dr Mark Porter investigates how much we really understand about ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome.


Cosmetic surgery is rarely out of the news this days, whether it's doctors condemning private clinics for trivialising the procedures with offers such as loyalty cards which encourage multiple operations, TV reality shows or celebrities suffering with the side effects.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the most common kinds of cosmetic surgery and their health consequences, finding out where people are going to have the surgery and the safety records of the operations.

He'll also be looking into skin treatments such as botox and facial peel.

It was in 1987 that American doctors first reported using botulinum toxin to reduce wrinkles.

The method works by paralysing the muscles of the face which are used in frowning and raising the eyebrows.

The result is that the fine lines and wrinkles become smoothed out.

But how often do you need to repeat the process to keep up your new appearance?

Facial peels involve wounding the skin by taking away the top layers.

The new skin underneath heals to form a top layer, which is smoother than the skin that's been removed.

There are a variety of methods of delivering a peel, including chemicals, abrasives or lasers.

Dr Mark Porter will be asking how people balance the medical risks and costs of undergoing cosmetic surgery with the psychological benefits.


Vitamins are essential for health, but how much of which vitamins is good for us? There's a current controversy over whether vitamin B6 protects against heart attack.

The Food Standards Agency has recently advised people at risk of osteoporosis not to eat liver more than once a week because the vitamin A levels could be dangerous.

Dr Mark Porter investigates.


The Royal Marsden is a leader in developing and testing anti-cancer treatments.

Mark Porter examines the hospital's latest advances in radiotherapy, chemotherapy and symptom control.


Heart failure, in which the heart loses its ability to efficiently pump blood throughout the body, is the leading cause of hospital admissions in the over 65s.

It often results from coronary heart disease or longstanding high blood pressure.

With its confusing array of symptoms, Dr Mark Porter looks at how the condition is properly diagnosed and examines latest treatments to slow down the disease progression and improve a patients quality of life.


Four in five adults will experience back pain.

Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest medical techniques to prevent and treat this often debilitating condition.


Every three minutes someone in the UK has a stroke.

The majority of these people are over 65, but strokes can happen at any age, even in children.

It is the major cause of severe disability and over a quarter of a million people are living with problems following strokes.

When a stroke occurs, the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

Without a blood supply, brain cells are damaged or destroyed.

A recent report by the National Audit Office has called for the treatment of stroke to be given a higher priority by the health and social services.

It says that many hospitals do not have staff with the skills to give stroke the attention it needs: for a stroke victim to have the best chance of survival the treatment needs to start within three hours.

Also, few members of the general public can recognise that someone is having a stroke and that they should call 999.

Dr Mark Porter talks to doctors who specialise in the treatment of stroke and asks how the awareness of the condition could be raised amongst the public and amongst the medical profession.

Many patients benefit from long term rehabilitation to get back the speech or movement they have lost following a stroke.

Mark Porter explores why some are not receiving the appropriate assistance.

He focuses on the needs of younger people who have had strokes.

And he finds out how people can reduce their risks of having a stroke: conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol, and having a family history, increase the risk.


Taking the patient's temperature is one of the commonest measurements carried out by a nurse or doctor.

Dr Mark Porter explores what departures from the average normal body temperature of 37C mean for our health.

When is a fever dangerous? How do you revive someone who has become very cold?


What do you do when your husband has chest pains or your child has a high temperature, late at night? Do you call an ambulance, ring your GP or log on to NHS direct? Dr Mark Porter explores the different Out of Hours medical services and how people are really using them.


Some broken bones heal well after a few weeks in plaster.

Others need an operation, maybe involving a metal plate or pins.

Fractures that refuse to knit are sometimes helped along with a burst of ultrasound.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest techniques for mending broken bones.


Over five million people in the UK have asthma, and it's on the increase.

Dr Mark Porter investigates a pioneering method of accurately diagnosing the condition, and he finds out if there will ever be a vaccine available.

Plus, what can be done for people who develop abnormal breathing patterns all the time, due to the fear of having an attack?


Over 100,000 hernia operations are carried out in the UK each year, and it's the most common procedure performed on men.

Dr Mark Porter investigates which treatments are the best for different kinds of hernia, from those caused by excessive exercise in adults to those found in babies.

We discover when a hernia needs to be treated, look into the pros and cons of having keyhole surgery or a traditional operation, and report on how children are treated.


Around 40 million people worldwide have epilepsy and it can occur at any age.

With appropriate management, up to 70% of cases can be seizure-free.

Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest treatments and talks to patients living with epilepsy.


About 1.3 million paper prescriptions are issued every working day in England.

Seven out of ten of these are for repeat medication.

By the end of next year, we won't be walking out of the surgery with a paper prescription as the information will be sent electronically to the pharmacist.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the progress of this new system, and finds out how the prescription became such an important part of the health service.


Dr Mark Porter discovers how keyhole, or minimally invasive, surgery is now being used to treat all kinds of conditions, including colorectal cancer, gynaecological problems and knee replacements.

He asks how doctors and patients decide when this kind of surgery is preferable to the more conventional approach.


Seventy per cent of us will encounter jaw joint problems whether it be clicking, clenching or muscular pain.

Teeth grinding or Bruxism is common during sleep, causing headaches, dental problems or face pain with patients totally unaware of the cause.

Plus, at least 4000 teenagers every year develop facial disproportion during their growth spurt, which requires corrective jaw surgery.

Dr Mark Porter also investigates and discovers the latest treatments for jaw cancer.


As the football World Cup approaches, fans are worrying about the fractures their star players may have or will receive during the tournament.

Some broken bones heal well after a few weeks in plaster.

Others need an operation, maybe involving a metal plate or pins.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest techniques for mending broken bones, including the metatarsals.


We're used to idea that a rash or a scab can be itchy, but there are other conditions that leave no signs on the skin but make us itch.

One is found in pregnancy, and can be dangerous for the baby and mother if untreated.

Others are common in the elderly, or in those who have a nutritional deficiency.

Dr Mark Porter reports.


Arthritis affects millions of people in the UK.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest developments in the treatment of the many varieties of the condition.


Bowel cancer kills 16,000 people every year, making it the second most common cause of cancer deaths, after lung cancer.

Dr Mark Porter looks at the National Screening Programme for the disease, which is due to be rolled out over the next three years.


How far can music and the arts make people feel better, and even speed up recovery? Dr Mark Porter investigates whether the arts have a serious role in medicine.

He also shares a joke with a comedian who is using humour to get men to see their doctors.


Two million people have been fitted with hearing aids in the UK, but why are nearly a third refusing to wear them? Dr Mark Porter investigates.


Dr Mark Porter explores tropical diseases.

As we travel to more exotic locations, we are more likely to succumb to exotic ailments.

Where should we go for advice on jabs, what drugs should we take with us, and what should we do if we suspect we have brought something back with us?


Traumatic brain injuries are mainly the result of serious accidents on the roads or at work, assaults or falls.

Dr Mark Porter discovers how these injuries are treated today.

He also finds out what happens during rehabilitation and the consequences for the people who had the accidents and their families.


Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest medical advances in understanding Parkinson's disease.

He visits Oxford to discover how brain surgery can help some patients with this neurological condition.

And his studio guest is Professor Peter Jenner, an expert in diseases affecting movement.


Long-acting contraceptive implants like Mirena are safe and reliable, so why has the uptake been so poor? Mark Porter investigates, and also finds out about new trials for reversible vasectomies underway in the US.


Mark Porter investigates the causes of high blood pressure and asks whether a patient's ethnic origin or gender may be a risk factor.

Are pills a life-long sentence or are there alternative treatments? New research proves that salt reduction lowers blood pressure in children and if we just dropped our daily population intake by 1g, then an estimated 7,000 lives would be saved.


Around 500 children are diagnosed with a form of leukaemia each year in the UK, and 4 out of 5 of them now survive.

Dr Mark Porter reports on how treatments for blood cancer have improved, and looks at the health of adults who had the disease when young.


The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body and is consequently one of the most susceptible to damage.

Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest treatments for problems from frozen shoulder and muscular pain to dislocations and fractures.


Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest treatments for eye conditions, which become more common as we age.

One in a hundred people over the age of 40 have some form of glaucoma, and cataracts and macular degeneration generally are problems for the elderly.


Dr Mark Porter explores the state of end-of-life care in the UK today, for patients with cancer, heart failure and other conditions, and their families and friends.


He looks at current medical applications of radiology including filmless x-rays, upright MRI scanners and a new form of radiotherapy used to treat prostate cancer.


Dr Mark Porter investigates how Multiple Sclerosis is affecting people in the UK, what drugs are available and what new treatments are being trialled.


Dr Mark Porter explores the aesthetic and practical importance of the nose and discusses new research that links nasal inflammation to asthma.


This programme investigates the reasons for Caesarian Section deliveries and the medical consequences for mothers and babies.


In the UK alone, more than 80,000 hip operations are carried out each year.

Dr Mark Porter investigates the mechanics of the joint and hears about the latest developments in artificial hips.


The Department of Health is soon to decide whether vaccines against some of the strains of human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer, should be offered in the UK.

The prospect of giving this vaccine to young girls has created controversy.

Dr Mark Porter explores the pros and cons.


Dr Mark Porter assesses the possible impact of the forthcoming ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, and asks how seriously we should take the threat of passive smoking.


He asks what a patient can do to prepare for an operation and the best way to speed up recovery.


Dr Mark Porter explores common foot ailments and reports on the latest treatments.

Although foot care is regarded as something of a health backwater, most people will have a problem with their feet at some point in their life.


Half a million people across the UK suffer from recurrent headaches caused by the very painkillers they are taking to ease them.

Mark Porter investigates, and asks whether the adage that eye strain is a common cause of headache is fact or fiction.


It is estimated that a million people will be living with Alzheimer's Disease in the UK in 15 years.

How many of them will get treatment to relieve the symptoms of memory loss, personality and mood changes? Dr Mark Porter finds out about the latest research and asks whether there will ever be a vaccine for dementia.

He also hears about how the eyes could provide a useful screening tool.


Dr Mark Porter investigates statins, drugs that lower the levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Many people take statins, but recent reports suggest that they may have dangerous side effects.


Dr Mark Porter visits a new unit at Birmingham Children's Hospital to find out about the latest developments in the treatment of childhood burns.


Many teenagers have ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Mark Porter joins Dr Esther Crawley at her clinic in Bath for this age group, and finds out what she and her team are doing to help her patients manage their illness.


Dr Mark Porter investigates health issues of the day.

He looks at cystic fibrosis, the UK's most common life-threatening inherited disease.

Current research into gene therapy offers hope of a potential cure.


Dr Mark Porter investigates health issues of the day.

He looks at liver disease with Professor Humphrey Hodgson, who explains why liver problems are rife in the UK and what listeners can do to prevent them.

Dr Nick Sheron talks about alcoholic liver disease and how to prevent it.


He looks at fainting, why it happens, how we learn to cope with it, and when fainting can have serious medical consequences.


He looks at the latest treatments for the problems that occur with abnormal activity of the thyroid gland.

He is joined by consultant Dr Mark Vanderpump from the Royal Free Hospital in London to discuss the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease.


He visits Yeovil District Hospital to explore a pilot scheme using keyhole or laparoscopic surgery to improve the treatment and recovery of patients with colo-rectal cancer.


He weighs up the health benefits of sunshine against the harm it can do to our skin.

Although sun creams protect against burning, do they also block a natural source of vitamin D that could help prevent breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease?


Dr Mark Porter explores health issues of the day.

He talks to a patient and her surgeon about the gastric bypass surgery which has led to her losing almost ten stone.

He also talks to psychologists about the controversial operation.


Dr Mark Porter explores health issues of the day.

He investigates aneurysms, swellings in blood vessels anywhere in the body.

The government has announced a national screening programme for aneurysms in the abdomen, whick kill more than 2,500 people in the UK every year.

More than half of them could be saved with an operation.


He investigates the relationship between smell and taste, with tips on how to avoid children becoming fussy eaters.


Lung cancer is notoriously difficult to treat and the UK has among the worst survival rates in Europe.

Dr Mark Porter finds out about the latest treatments offering hope at Hammersmith Hospital.

Dr Mark Porter on the latest treatments for lung cancer.


Dr Mark Porter visits a midwife-led unit in south London to ask the mothers there why they have chosen this option.

What happens if they need surgical intervention?

Dr Mark Porter finds out how women choose where to give birth: in hospital or at home.


Diabetes is the cause of 100 foot amputations every week in the UK.

One of the commonest consequences of diabetes is restriction of blood flow to different organs and parts of the body.

With reduced blood flow in the feet, sufferers are at considerable risk of developing dangerously infected ulcers.

If the ulcers are not caught in time, many patients have to lose their feet in order to save their lives.

In this edition of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter visits the specialist diabetic foot clinic at King's College Hospital in London.

There he talks to doctors, surgeons and foot specialists about the risks of life-threatening complications of diabetes in the feet, and hears about the various treatments and surgical operations which are helping to reduce the number of amputations for their patients.

Mark also talks to patients about their experiences of the insidious threat from foot ulcers and how they've been treated.

The disease process which leads to ulcers developing in the feet also takes place in the eyes of some diabetic patients.

Diabetic retinopathy presents a real risk of blindness if it's not detected and treated.

So Mark also visits the eye clinic at King's College Hospital to see laser treatment in action.

Diabetes is the cause of 100 foot amputations every week - but treatments are improving.


Dr Mark Porter goes to Birmingham to visit the surgery of Steve Field, GP and Chairman of The Royal College of General Practitioners.

They offer tips on how to get the best from your doctor and discuss the impact of the governments new changes to the NHS.

Producer: Erika Wright.


Attacks of vertigo and dizziness afflict hundreds of thousands of people every year in the UK.

One in three of us under 65 years old will have experienced a balance disorder.

For some, problems with their sense of balance are so severe that a trip outside the house becomes a disorientating nightmare.

Many become reclusive and depressed.

In this edition of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter talks to patients, doctors and other clinical specialists about the various conditions which cause vertigo and disabling dizziness.

Mark visits the one-stop Balance Clinic at Guy's Hospital in London where patients are assessed and treated for a range of balance disorders.

These include the commonest varieties such as labyrinthitis and vertiginous migraine (also known as 'Supermarket Syndrome because the visual patterns of the packet-lined surroundings trigger attacks of disorientation).

Fortunately many patients can be helped with sessions of special physiotherapy exercises rather than drugs and surgery.

Mark joins a session in the clinic's gym to hear how these cheap and simple therapies work.

There are also rare, stranger balance upsets such as Tullois' Syndrome in which one allied symptom is that patients can also hear the sound of their eyeballs moving.

Another is Mal De Debarquement Syndrome in which sufferers experience years of a constant rocking sensation following a single trip on a boat.

Mark also hears about the kinds of surgery possible for those patients stricken with vertigo that cannot be treated with less radical interventions.

At the hi-tech end, Daniel Merfeld of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital in the USA talks about the inner ear implant he is developing.

This device is designed to be a balance-correcting equivalent of a cochlear implant.

Producer: Andrew Luck-baker.

Dr Mark Porter investigates balance disorders.


It's been estimated that 10% of patients in hospital experience something that could cause them medical harm.

Many of these mistakes occur in the operating theatre.

Since February 2010 the NHS in England and Wales has introduced the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist for every patient undergoing a surgical procedure, following research that showed its application reduced the number of adverse events.

Mark Porter looks into how the checklist makes a difference.

Other common mistakes are the result of patients being given the wrong drugs or the wrong dosage of drugs.

Mark finds out how medical teams report incidents.

Can they learn how to avoid further mistakes from other organisations?

Producer: Deborah Cohen.

Mark Porter finds out how to improve patient safety in hospitals and the community.


He looks at problems with the vocal cords, visiting the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital and testing a gadget to help rest them.

He also discusses treatments for more long-term issues such as laryngeal dystonia.


He looks at Metabolic Syndrome, which can be a precursor to diabetes and heart disease.

He is joined in the studio by Prof Tom Sanders, a nutrition expert from Kings College, London, and Prof Lucilla Poston, who studies the outcome for the babies of mothers who have Metabolic Syndrome.


Dr Mark Porter and guests discuss how to deal with the side effects of medication.

All drugs have the potential to produce unwanted and dangerous side effects, and a number have been withdrawn as a result.


He leads a debate on the programme of health checks for the over 40s recently announced by the government, including screening for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Guests discuss the pros and cons of such preventative action and the lessons learned from 20 years of breast cancer screening.

Mark investigates whether such programmes can increase or calm public anxiety and whether people are more or less likely to comply if they are concerned about their health.


He reports on the latest findings about the experience of physical pain.

By doing real-time scanning of the brain, researchers can see where pain is experienced.

The hope is that this understanding will lead to new treatments for pain, which could be either drugs or psychological.

Mark also talks to doctors who are developing new ways of assessing how much pain babies are experiencing when they are ill or undergoing medical procedures.


Dr Mark Porter explores health issues of the day.

He investigates the latest treatments for problems in the urinary tract.

He reports on the diagnosis and treatment of different conditions that can affect the kidneys and the bladder and discovers that blood in the urine can be a sign of a variety of problems.


Dr Mark Porter reports on the unique study that is tracking obesity from childhood.

Researchers in Plymouth have been following the progress of a group of 300 children since they were born.

Now they are teenagers, and data from taking blood samples and weighing them has helped the scientists to reveal that obesity follows gender lines and that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight.

Dr Mark Porter on the teenagers who are helping researchers to track childhood obesity.


Dr Mark Porter visits Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, the UK's receiving centre for soldiers injured in the world's most dangerous war zone.

Paramedics work non-stop to keep the critically wounded alive on the flight back from Afghanistan.

Once they reach the Intensive Care Unit at Selly Oak, the lifesaving treatment begins.

Wounded solders are a unique group of patients.

They have usually sustained a complex set of injuries from gunshots and multiple fractures, amputations, loss of sight or hearing and brain injury.

Being soldiers, they are young, fit and determined, all of which helps them to recover physically from their injuries and the many operations they often have to endure.

Some of the injuries soldiers sustain can be devastating, such as the loss of both legs from an explosion.

Grouping military patients together on the trauma ward enables them to support each other.

And NHS and military staff work side by side on the ward to further support to patients' medical and emotional needs.

Selly Oak Hospital primarily treats the physical impact of war, but identifying and treating the mental scars is equally important.

Soldiers are now being trained to identify warning signs in their peers while in Afghanistan so that they can be treated before their symptoms overwhelm them.

Efforts are also being made to help soldiers cope with the transition from the war zone to life at home.


Dr Mark Porter explores the health issues of the day.


Dr Mark Porter finds out how women choose where to give birth: in hospital or at home.

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Dr Mark Porter investigates health issues of the day.

He looks at diagnosis and treatment of prostate problems and asks whether screening for prostate cancer is successful.

He also visits Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where surgeons are using a robot to improve the accuracy of their operations.

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Dr Mark Porter investigates health issues of the day.

He has recently undergone an operation on his back to relieve his sciatica and reports on how the treatment has gone.

He explores other approaches to dealing with problems with the discs in the back, including artificial replacements.

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He investigates what harm we can do to ourselves in the garden.

In June 2008, The Lancet reported that a man had died from inhaling many Aspergillus spores from his compost heap.

Mark discusses the realities of the problem, finds out about toxic plants and obtains some advice about protecting backs and knees while gardening.

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Dr Mark Porter explores health issues of the day.

He visits the Royal Victoria Infirmary Poisons Unit in Newcastle, which treats around 1,200 patients a year who have either accidentally or purposely poisoned themselves.

A surprising number of poison cases involve paracetamol.

Dr Simon Thomas, consultant physician and clinical pharmacologist at the hospital, shows Mark around the facilities and highlights the issues surrounding paracetamol overdose.

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Dr Mark Porter explores men's health in the workplace and how even the threat of redundancy can make you ill.

Mark visits the Olympic venue for London 2012 to talk to doctors and construction workers about the importance of having on-site facilities.

He also hears how cab drivers on Merseyside are giving tips on stopping smoking and becoming more healthy by eating five portions of fruit and veg per day.

Also, how the Metropolitan Police are managing the stress levels of their officers.

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He visits Glasgow where doctors have pioneered a new treatment for strokes, which is common in older people.

They are calling the clot-busting therapy the Lazarus effect because it has such a dramatic result.

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Dr Mark Porter talks to Sir Harold Ellis, one of Britain's leading surgeons, about how his practice has changed since he began, just as the NHS came into being.

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Dr Mark Porter explores how to improve communication between the medical profession and patients.

There are always times when a diagnosis is bad news or a treatment has failed.

Some doctors have an excellent bedside manner and can talk about the worst with compassion, but there are many who don't naturally have that skill.

Mark Porter joins cancer specialist Dr Pauline Leonard as she runs a course for other cancer doctors to train them to give bad news in a more caring way.

He finds out if doing role play with actors can change senior specialists' approaches to patients.

The experience of being in hospital and undergoing lots of procedures can be daunting for anyone, but particularly for children.

They may not understand what the doctors and nurses are telling them.

The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London is giving each child who is having an operation an age-appropriate DVD that explains what is going to happen to them.

The youngest children receive a cartoon and the older ones are given a film presented by other children who have been through the operation in question.

Mark talks to the children and the paediatric medical teams to see if the scheme is working.

And what happens when patients or their families don't understand English well? Mark sits in on a consultation with an advocate who has to translate both the language and the medical terms.

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Dr Mark Porter explores the diagnosis and treatment of Barrett's oesophagus.

Barrett's oesophagus is a condition that affects some people who have had severe heartburn for a long time.

Mark finds out how it is dealt with at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

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Dr Mark Porter investigates the latest treatments for problems with the lens of the eye.

Among other conditions, he reports on the best way to remove cataracts, which are clouding of the lens.

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Dr Mark Porter on how best to help people rebuild their lives after a head injury.

Damage to the brain affects people in all kinds of ways, both physically and emotionally.

At the Bath Neuro Rehabiliation Services, Mark discovers how timely intervention can reduce problems.

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Dr Mark Porter sorts out the good from the bad in terms of health advice online.

As more people turn to self diagnosis on the internet, he asks where we can find helpful and accurate information.

And will chronic conditions be monitored over the web in the future?

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Dr Mark Porter reports on food intolerance.

Many people think they have an intolerance or an allergy to certain foods.

Mark discovers the difference between these conditions and asks what happens when we go to a clinic to be investigated.

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He reports on the latest treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

In the past drugs were used just to deal with the pain, but now there are some that can prevent the disease.

Mark talks to doctors and patients.

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He looks at the problem of superbugs in hospitals and the Department of Health's strategy for eliminating them.

A Night In E R2010122820101229

A festive look behind the scenes at Southampton's 21st century Emergency Department.

Dr Mark Porter discovers the difference between the old-style Casualty and a modern hospital Emergency Department like Southampton's - where the latest technology is used to rapidly assess and treat everything from suspected strokes and heart attacks to febrile convulsions and broken limbs.

As well as running the busy Southampton ED - which treats 90,000 patients every year - Dr John Heyworth is also President of the College of Emergency Medicine.

He says the discipline has managed to evolve - from one which provided a surgical "fixing" service 25 years ago - to today's, providing rapid support for an increasing number of critically ill patients.

The complex needs of our ageing population puts extra demands on the staff - and Southampton has a consultant in the ED until midnight, every day of the week to provide the best possible care.

Specialist staff including Emergency Nurse Practitioners are on hand as a guide through how children are assessed and treated in a separate areas, the triage system and the infamous 4 hour waits.

As well as a resuscitation area, the ED is close to the Cath Lab - where a balloon is used to widen blocked arteries.

If a heart attack is suspected, a troponin blood test will be carried out quickly by the ED to give a definitive answer, giving a safe and timesaving outcome for patients.

Mark Porter asks how the ED in Britain compares with the rest of the world - and how emergency care will fare in these straitened times.

Producer: Paula McGrath.

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Dr Mark Porter explores health issues of the day.

He investigates the medical and psychological aspects of abortion.

He talks to Dr John Spencer of Marie Stopes International and finds out about a counselling phone line for women who have had abortions.


Every year around a quarter of a million people in the UK have a heart attack and some 150,000 of them die.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest approaches to preventing deaths from heart attacks.

Usually when someone who's had a heart attack is taken to hospital he or she is given drugs to break down the clots in the arteries.

The patients are then given an angioplasty at a later date to open up the blood vessels.

In an angioplasty, a tiny balloon is introduced through the groin into the clogged up vessels.

The balloon is then inflated and keeps the vessels open.

Now there's a new approach to dealing with heart attacks which involves doing an angioplasty immediately.

A pilot project in several hospitals in the UK is showing that primary angioplasty is saving more lives.

Dr Mark Porter talks to the doctors at one of the pilots, the Hammersmith Hospital, and finds out how it's changing their working lives.

Angioplasty is carried out under local anaesthetic and on average the patients have recovered after a few days.

However, the arteries often become blocked again and the procedure has to be repeated.

An alternative is to give the patients cardiac bypass surgery which is done under general anaesthetic.

In this, the surgeon grafts other blood vessels around the blockage.

Recuperation from this major surgery can take several months.

Mark Porter finds out how doctors decide which procedure is appropriate for which patient.


He studies the latest guidelines on antibiotic prescriptions for ear ache and discusses the criteria for a prescription and what treatment is available to people who do not qualify.


Dr Mark Porter examines the diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis and talks to doctors to discover how they decide when it is time to remove the appendix.

The appendix can cause a serious medical emergency - peritonitis - if it ruptures, and surgery to remove it is one of the commonest procedures in UK hospitals.

But deciding when the organ needs to be taken out is not easy.

The symptoms of appendicitis can be similar to other conditions such as urinary tract infections and gastroenteritis.

Mark talks to doctors about how they diagnosis appendicitis, sometimes including using scanning, and then how they decide to go ahead and operate.

He also discovers how it is particularly difficult to detect the condition in young children, and asks if a high fibre diet can prevent appendicitis.

Dr Mark Porter examines the diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis.

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The start of a new academic year is a stressful time for parents and kids alike.

Dr Mark Porter gives advice on the latest treatments for everything from headlice to bedwetting.

Balance Disorders
Barrett's Oesophagus

At the University of Bath Sports Village, Dr Mark Porter gets his gait analysed and is given exercises on how to avoid running injuries.

He talks to sports doctors, physiotherapists and biomechanicists about problems such as back pain and arthritis, for both elite and recreational athletes.

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker.

Dr Mark Porter investigates biomechanics and sports injuries at the University of Bath.

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Up to 25,000 hospital patients die every year in England, of which only around 1,500 are from hospital superbugs.

Doctors at King's College hospital in London are leading the way in trying to cut the number of deaths by assessing the risk to surgical patients and giving preventative treatments.

Dr Mark Porter hears from patients who have had clots in their legs travel up to their lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism, and finds out what you should do to prevent risk if you end up in hospital.

Breast Problems * *2009051220090513

Dr Mark Porter explores the latest treatments for breast problems.

Women often believe if they find changes to their breasts, or feel pain in that area, it means that they have a serious condition or cancer.

But usually the symptoms are of a benign condition.

Mark finds out how they are treated.

Cerebral Palsy *2009050520090506

Dr Mark Porter discusses the causes and treatments for cerebral palsy.

One in 400 births are affected by cerebral palsy.

Mark visits the Bobath Centre in London to find out how their joined-up approach to treatment can help.

Consent For Blood Transfusion2010092120100922

We take it for granted that blood will be available if we need an emergency transfusion.

Mark Porter discovers how the transfusion services ensure the safe and timely provision of blood and its components.

He finds out how the preparation of blood is being made more efficiently.

An alternative to receiving blood from a donor is for the patient to use their own.

This is called cell salvage.

Blood is collected during an operation, cleaned and then returned to the patient.

Mark Porter talks to doctors and patients about the benefits of cell salvage.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Mark Porter explores ways to improve the way that blood is used in transfusions.

Consent For Blood Transfusion20100922

Mark Porter explores ways to improve the way that blood is used in transfusions.


Dr Mark Porter investigates constipation, to discover the causes and treatments of this extremely common problem that is often suffered in silence due to embarrassment.

He visits Southampton General Hospital to talk to Nick Coleman, consultant gastroenterologist, about how to manage this uncomfortable condition.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Dr Mark Porter investigates constipation, a common complaint that is often hidden.

Diabetic Feet
Does Work Make You Sick?2003051320030514

Dr Graham Easton explores occupational medicine with tips on avoiding RSI, and what to do when ill-health prevents you from doing your job.

Down's Syndrome2008010820080109

He looks at recent advances in the treatment of Down's Syndrome, visiting clinics that work with young sufferers and their families to improve their ear, nose and throat problems and developmental issues.


Dr Mark Porter visits the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology in Nottingham to find out the latest reasearch into treating the symptoms of eczema.

He sees their day-to-day work in action and talks to the team.

One study going on at the centre is looking at whether installing a water softener will have any effect on childhood eczema.

Professor Hywel Williams, the director of the centre, has been wanting to do this study for years, after hearing from many patients that softened water seems to improve their symptoms.

Other patients are not so sure though, so research in this area is needed.

If it is the case that installing a water softener in the home (bar one tap to be used for drinking water) has an effect, then many patients will be relieved, as this bypasses the worrying side-effects of many eczema drug treatments.

Emergency Services2009021720090218

Dr Mark Porter joins ambulance crews as they go out to calls.

He finds out what treatment paramedics are now able to deliver to people with medical emergencies and what they leave until they get to hospital.

Face Transplant2006013120060201

Last December, consultant plastic surgeon Dr Peter Butler was given permission by his hospital's ethics committee to identify a patient to be given a face transplant.

Dr Butler is Mark Porter's guest in the studio and they discuss the reasons why he believes this operation should be performed and the issues for the patient and the donor's family.


The gallbladder is tucked beneath the liver and aids digestion.

It is possible to function without it and when gallstones develop they can be troublesome and painful.

Dr Mark Porter examines the causes and treatment of gallbladder problems and visits Gloucester Royal Hospital to see its surgical removal.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Dr Mark Porter examines the causes and treatment of gallstones and their surgical removal.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder2002090320020904

Dr Graham Easton investigates GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER.

The programme explains why more people seem to feel on edge, what treatments are available and when we should seek help.


is an eye disease in which fluid pressure is raised.

It causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision.

Dr Mark Porter visits Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and finds about a new test for glaucoma, which will lead to earlier diagnosis He also hears about the latest research into the genetics of the optic nerve.

Producer: Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Dr Mark Porter looks at a new test for the eye disease, glaucoma.

Good Fats And Bad Fats2010091420100915

Dr Mark Porter investigates how the good and bad fats we eat can impact on our health, including trans fats that are found in many take away foods and are associated with heart disease.

And he discovers that the health benefits of eating Omega fats depend on which you eat and when you eat them - too much Omega-6 for example, can hinder the benefits of Omega-3.

Case Notes unpicks health messages about fat consumption that are confusing and contradictory.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Dr Mark Porter investigates how the good and bad fats we eat can impact on our health.

Gut Bacteria

Gut Bacteria2011030820110309

The idea of taking faeces from someone and transplanting it into the bowels of a loved one might sound disgusting.

Medically, it might make good sense though.

In fact a number of doctors have discovered that this procedure cures intestinal infections when all other treatments have failed.

As Dr Mark Porter discovers, it's an illustration of the power of 'good' bacteria.

Our bowels are home to an ecosystem of billions of bacteria and other microbes.

Many of these gut bugs perform vital jobs for us, such as helping to digest food, making vitamins and priming the immune system.

In the last few years, researchers have gathered evidence that a range of health problems and conditions arise from there being an inbalance between beneficial bacteria and potentially harmful ones.

These conditions include Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Clostridium difficile infection, allergies and possibly bowel cancer.

Dr Mark Porter talks to researchers and doctors about some of the latest findings and treatments based on these insights.

Dr Mark Porter on faecal transplants, and the balance of good and bad bugs in our guts.


He looks at common problems of hair, from greying to dandruff and baldness.

He reports on new genetic studies of the fungus that causes dandruff and on why we lose the colour in our hair as we age.

He also explores why chemotherapy changes the structure of hair.

Head Injuries
Heart Attacks2009020320090204

He visits the Heart Attack Centre at the Barts and The London NHS Trust.

The hospital has recently won awards for its emergency treatment for those with heart attacks.

The Centre works with the London Ambulance Service to try and ensure that all those suffering a heart attack receive a balloon angioplasty - a balloon put into a valve in the heart - as soon as possible.

It has been shown that those who receive this treatment are far more likely to survive the attack.

The hospital has managed to reduce deaths from heart attack by 50 per cent.

Mark looks at the other services provided by the Heart Attack Centre and finds out how soon it will be before services like this are available across the UK.


Experts at Europe's largest liver transplant unit - at King's College Hospital in London - explain how vague symptoms help to keep hepatitis C "hidden" inside the body for years.

Dr Mark Porter looks at the latest ways to manage this condition.

Producer: Helen Sharp.


Graham Easton is joined by Professor Andrew Kingsnorth from the University of Plymouth to explore the problem of hernias.

Anyone can get a hernia including babies and they occur anywhere from the chest to the groin.

Not all hernias need treatment, but how do you tell whether you need SURGERY or not and which types of SURGERY are the best?

How Much Water Should We Drink?2010051120100512

Messages about how much water we should drink for optimum health are often confusing and contradictory.

Dr Mark Porter talks to the author of a new report to unpick the myths.

He investigates the working of the kidney and finds out if children are dehydrating at school if they drink well at breakfast but come home with a headache.

How Much Water Should We Drink?2010051820100519

Producer: Deborah Cohen.

Dr Mark Porter looks into the growing trend for telehealth, health care at a distance.


He is joined by Dr Anne Szarewski to discuss HPV, a family of viruses that cause verrucas, warts and cervical cancer.

The majority of the infections clear up without any treatment but some are more serious.

A vaccine will soon be available for all girls aged 11-18 to prevent the two viruses that cause the majority of cervical cancers.

Since these viruses are sexually transmitted, the aim is to vaccinate before girls become sexually active.

Infant Death Syndrome2009011320090114

Dr Mark Porter explores the science behind the dramatic cut in the number of cot deaths.

He hears about a study in Bradford which is looking at the differences between how South Asian and European families look after their newborns, as the incidence of Sudden Infact Death Syndrome is generally lower in families of South Asian origin.

A large study in the south west of England has confirmed risk factors including exposure to tobacco smoke and front-sleeping, though others, like co-sleeping, are less clear-cut.


Dr Mark Porter finds out about how to avoid and treat diseases caused by insects.

Some insects only leave itchy bites on the skin but others transmit serious diseases.

Ticks in the UK can cause Lyme disease, with symptoms such as tiredness and pains, mites are responsible for scabies, and tropical areas pose a threat with malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.

Iron Deficient Anaemia20100427

is common but so are the uncomfortable side effects from the tablets used to treat it.

Dr Mark Porter hears the wide ranging causes of this form of anaemia, and visits Birmingham hospitals where new techniques are being used to manage the condition.

He asks when the lack of iron may indicate something more serious.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Dr Mark Porter reports from Birmingham on new treatments for iron deficient anaemia.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome2007090420070905

He looks at Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the world's most common functional gastrointestinal disorder, exploring current understanding of this condition and how it is best treated.


Dr Mark Porter visits a fertility clinic to learn about the latest developments in the field of in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF), and clarifies what the NHS now offers, and to whom.

Dr Mark Porter visits a fertility clinic to learn about the latest developments in IVF.

Kidney Disease2006022120060222

Kidney ailment rates are on the increase, according to some reports.

People with even mild forms of this condition are at risk of developing kidney failure.

Dr Mark Porter examines the causes of the increase in kidney problems and reports on how they can be prevented and treated.

Knee Injuries2008050620080507

He looks at knee injuries and how to treat them.

He discovers the latest treatments for torn ligaments and damage to soft tissues and finds out when the physiotherapists can help and when the solution is in the hands of the surgeon.

Lens Of The Eye

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest advice on how to diagnose and treat meningitis, and finds out what happens to those who survive this serious disease but who are left with problems.


In little more than a year, mephedrone (aka miaow miaow, bubble and M-Cat) has become one of the most popular 'party' drugs in the UK.

Many thousands of young people are using it every week.

Health professionals are not sure how harmful to health this new drug is, though anecdotal reports give them cause for considerable concern.

It is the latest so-called 'legal high'.

Currently in mainland Britain, it is legal to import, sell and possess mephedrone.

Dr Mark Porter talks to experts about what we know and don't know about the risks from its use.

Mark also looks at what science is telling us about the adverse health effects of cocaine and cannabis.

Dr Mark Porter looks at what we do and don't know about the dangers of recreational drugs.

Morning Sickness

Morning Sickness2011030120110302

Graham Easton explores the history of needles in medicine, from the earliest examples made of bone to the latest in pain-free injections and how to deal with needle phobia.

New Choices In The Nhs2005091320050914

Choose and Book is a new electronic service that allows patients to select which hospital they are referred to.

A recent survey showed that cleaner hospitals were a top patient priority while where to have an operation came bottom.

So Dr Mark Porter asks, why is this new system being implemented and will it really help patients and doctors get better healthcare?


Does dieting really make you fat or is it all in the genes? Graham Easton looks at the factors surrounding what we eat and why.


They infect us in a variety of ways, from invading us via our food or an insect bite, to boring directly through our skin.

They can live in our bodies unnoticed, like the beef tapeworm, or can kill us within days, like one form of malaria.

Dr Mark Porter visits the Hospital of Tropical Diseases in London, where Professor Peter Chiodini and his colleagues diagnose and treat the patients who have picked up parasites both in Britain and abroad.

Parasites have complex life cycles requiring them to inhabit one or more hosts to reproduce and ensure their species' survival.

The parasite Toxoplasma Gondii, which can damage babies born to infected mothers, needs to cycle between rats and cats to survive.

Research shows that it has developed an ingenious way of ensuring this happens.

A rat infected with the parasite will lose its fear of cats, thereby increasing the parasite's chances of being eaten by a cat.

Research suggests that the parasite may also alter human behaviour, with implications for the causes and treatment of schizophrenia.

Emerging infections are always a concern for doctors, and parasites are no exception.

Mark Porter discovers that there is a cancer-causing parasite threatening to reach our shores, and that man's best friend is the host that's likely to bring it here.

Premature Babies20030416

need special attention.

Most will lead perfectly normal lives, but nobody really knows the long-term consequences of being born early.

Graham Easton investigates.

Prostate Cancer2003042920030430

In Case Notes this week, presenter Graham Easton explores Prostate cancer, one of the commonest cancers in men, and one of the most hotly debated subjects among doctors and patients.

In the UK, the PSA blood test is not offered as a routine screening test because it's not very reliable, and not everyone's happy about that.

Even if you do have early Prostate cancer, the main treatments, including SURGERY and RADIOTHERAPY, all have considerable drawbacks, and theres no good evidence that any of them will help you live any longer.

Case Notes explores how men are managing to steer their way through the Prostate cancer maze; from whether to have the PSA test, to deciding which treatment is best for you, including one of the newer techniques called brachytherapy.

Graham talks to a group of men who have been diagnosed with early Prostate cancer, and hears about their experiences as they heard the news, had biopsies and decided which treatment to have.

Consultant urologist Mr Anup Patel is the guest in the studio, who explains about the pros and cons of the PSA test, and how he decides with his patients which treatment is most suitable for them.

Graham also talks to urologist Steve Langley, an expert in brachytherapy, a relatively new form of RADIOTHERAPY for Prostate cancer, involving implanting tiny radioactive pellets in the Prostate.

For some men it may help reduce some of the common side effects of external beam RADIOTHERAPY or SURGERY, such as IMPOTENCE and INCONTINENCE.

Regional Anaesthesia2010081720100818

Instead of putting patients to sleep, many major surgical procedures can be done under regional anaesthesia.

Mark Porter visits the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading to investigate the latest alternatives to having a general anaesthetic.

He talks to patients, surgeons and anaesthetists about the new high-tech options available and why they choose one form of anaesthesia over another.

Producer: Erika Wright.

Many surgical procedures can now be done under regional anaesthesia.

Mark Porter reports.

School Nurses * *2009091520090916

Dr Mark Porter finds out what the future holds for school nurses.

No longer searching for nits and handing out plasters, school nurses now help children with complex diseases cope in the classroom and give advice about healthy lifestyles to children and families.


Dr Mark Porter investigates the past and future of surgery.

He meets Prof Harold Ellis, a surgeon who qualified in the summer that the NHS was born, and hears about some of the latest surgical techniques, including how a gall bladder can be removed with just one tiny incision through the bellybutton.


is bringing benefits to both patients and doctors in Wales.

Now that the neurologist no longer has a two and a half hour drive each way from Swansea to Aberystwyth he can run clinics for his patients in mid Wales every six weeks rather than every three months.

Instead the neurologist, Dr Hinds, links up to the consulting room in Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth from his home base in Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

With the latest technology he can see the patients and any scans and blood test results.

In Gloucestershire patients with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder who need daily monitoring are using technology to take readings of blood pressure and lung function in their homes.

These measurements are sent to their GPs' computers.

In Scotland, too, telemedicine is bringing patients in remote areas specialist advice and treament.

Mark Porter reports on these projects and asks how far can telemedicine go? Do the patients like it?

Producer: Deborah Cohen.

Mark Porter reports on how telemedicine is transforming patients' lives.

The Ovary2009021020090211

Dr Mark Porter reports on the ovary - from fertility to screening trials for ovarian cancer.

He hears how doctors aim to manage the symptoms of polycystic ovaries, which can include infertility, unwanted body or facial hair, weight problems and depression.

Mark also hears about research aimed at finding out which women are most at risk of ovarian cancer, which, because of its vague symptoms, is notoriously difficult to detect in time to be successfully treated.

The Sex Lives Of Us2007091120070912

This programme looks at sexual dysfunction.

Most people encounter sexual difficulties at some point in their life.

Common disorders include loss of desire in both women and men, erectile dysfunction and inability to attain orgasm in women.

Treatments depend on the cause of the problem and range from medication or surgery to behavioural psychotherapies.


Graham Easton explores THYROID CONDITIONS with guest Professor John Lazarus, President of the British Thyroid Association.


He explores what life is like after having a transplanted organ and talks to the transplant medical teams who provide psychological support.


Dr Mark Porter visits the Trauma Centre at Barts and the London Hospital.

It has set up teams of experts to rapidly deliver treatments to those who are seriously injured, following a model of care that was established in the United States.

This approach has been shown to save lives and improve the outcome for severely injured patients.

The Royal London Hospital Trauma Centre treats around 1400 patients a year, and about a quarter of these are very seriously injured.

This can be the result of knife or gunshot wounds, traffic accidents, burns or falls.

The team was heavily involved in the treatment of the victims of the London bombings in 2005.

The Trauma Centre is now one of four in London, which are collaborating to provide the best treatment to the capital.

Mark Porter spends a day with the team of doctors and nurses, to find out how they work together to save the lives of the seriously injured.

Producer: Deborah Cohen.

Dr Mark Porter visits the Trauma Centre at the Royal London Hospital.

Ultrasound * *2009090120090902

Dr Mark Porter traces the rise of the use of ultrasound in medicine.

He visits Dr Kypros Nicolaides's foetal medicine clinic, where he finds out how state-of-the-art ultrasound is being used to check the development of pregnancies.

Vitamin D20100420

After a cold winter with little sunlight lack of vitamin D is common, but how do you know if your levels are too low? Traditionally lack of Vitamin D is linked with poor bone health, but new studies suggest that milder deficiency may also be linked to asthma, some cancers and diabetes.

Dr Mark Porter investigates and hears from a night shift worker who had such excruciating pain in her hands she thought that she had arthritis - when her doctor checked for vitamin D levels, 3 weeks of supplements cured the pain.

Dr Mark Porter examines evidence of links between vitamin D deficiency and some cancers.


Mark Porter examines manic depression.

What can be done to diagnose it early and what are the different treatments now available?


Dr Mark Porter spends a day in an intensive care unit and finds out how the staff take care of the patients and help families come to terms with the machines.


At two months old every baby in Britain is given injections for a whole host of common diseases.

There are more injections at three and four months, and boosters a few years later.

Health professionals argue that children are being better protected than ever, while some parents fear youngsters are starting to resemble pin cushions.

Dr Mark Porter investigates.


A programme exploring the menopause, plus Dr Mark Porter sees how a new and little-known treatment for osteoporosis works.


Feeling sick is a very distinctive sensation, and yet it has a great many causes: food poisoning, pregnancy, infection, migraine or motion to name but a few.

This week Dr Mark Porter explores one of the most unpleasant symptoms, hearing about why nausea can sometimes follow an operation and is a common side effect of many drugs including chemotherapy.

And he will experience nausea at first hand as he visits a motion sickness laboratory at Imperial College.


Dr Mark Porter visits Southampton's specialist Allergy Clinic to explore the nature of allergies and why they seem to be on the increase.

203C01Cholesterol And Blood Fats2003081220030813

In the first of a new series, Graham Easton investigates the truth about cholesterol and blood fats.

Should we be worried about rising cholesterol levels and what can we do about them anyway? Will changing our diet make any difference or could a revolutionary new pill keep our hearts and blood vessels healthy regardless of how we live our lives?

203C02Rehab Techniques And Research2003081920030820

How good is the NHS at helping people recover after a heart attack or a stroke? Case Notes explores the emerging specialty of rehabilitation medicine and hears about the latest rehab techniques and research.

203C03Burns Medicine2003082620030827

Every 90 seconds, someone in the UK is burnt or scalded in an accident.

But would you know how to treat a burn? Graham Easton explores the world of burns medicine, visiting a unit in East Grinstead that has pioneered plastic SURGERY for victims and looks at the evidence for and against the use of ever more potent sun creams.


About 8 million people in the UK have OSTEOARTHRITIS and about one million of these ask for treatment.

Of the others, many never realise they have OSTEOARTHRITIS, or suffer any pain, although it is very common to spot it on x-rays.

Case Notes investigates how much we really know about this condition, what really works as treatment and prevention, and the latest in OSTEOARTHRITIS research.


The kidneys are vital organs, helping to maintain healthy blood, regulating blood pressure and removing waste products from your body.

How can we best look after our kidneys? What happens when they become diseased; and how would you cope with life on dialysis three times a week for the rest of your life? Presented by Dr Mark Porter


Dr Mark Porter presents news and reports from around the UK on the health of the nation, and the NHS.

203C09Serious Food-poisoning2003093020031001

affects 100,000 people in ENGLAND and Wales each year and account for 100 to 200 deaths.

Dr Mark Porter discusses how these infections find their way into us.

203C10 LASTNavigating The Nhs2003100720031008

In the last of the current series Dr Mark Porter puts questions suggested by Radio 4 listeners to a panel of experts on how to get the best out of the NHS.

He asks how to find the perfect GP, how to avoid unnecessary waits to see a specialist, or how to go about seeking a second opinion.

To have your query raised please email or ring the Radio 4 helpline 0800 044044 before Monday 6th October.


New Series, Repeated Wednesday.


In the last few months Hormone Replacement Therapy use in the UK has been blamed for 20,000 additional cases of breast cancer over the last ten years.

Dr Mark Porter investigates.


This week, Dr Mark Porter investigates hepatitis - a contagious infection of the liver carried by around 650,000 people in the UK and spread through contact with sewage, contaminated water, blood transfusions, needle sharing and unprotected sex.

Find out what you need to know about how to protect yourself even if you don't think you're at risk.

203D04Eyes After 402003121620031217

As we get older our eyesight gets worse.

Often we see our doctor and DENTIST more regularly than the optician.

Could we be doing damage to our eyes with such negligence? This week Dr Mark Porter takes a look at what happens to your eyes after the age of 40.

203D05Alcohol And Myths2003122320031224

With Mark Porter.

Alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug in society yet most drinkers know surprisingly little about it - and what knowledge they do have is generally based on pub lore and urban myth, rather than the latest scientific understanding.

If you think hangovers are caused by dehydration, that beer is more fattening than wine or that drinking alcohol through a straw will get you drunk more quickly, then you need to listen to this week's programme.

203D06Sleep Disorders2003123020031231

One in twenty of the British population suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness (EDS) due to poor SLEEP - a condition that blunts mental agility and impairs judgement, as well as making us irritable and more sensitive to stress, pain and anxiety.

And it can be lethal - EDS is responsible for 1 in 5 motorway accidents and has been compared to alcohol in its effects on performing complex tasks like driving.

And in the longer term it's linked to heart disease, DIABETES and high blood pressure.

So why don't we take it more seriously? But then on the other hand, one in 50 British adults are on prescribed medicine to help SLEEPing at night, and probably as many are treating themselves with over-the-counter remedies.

Is medicine the true answer to a good night's SLEEP or are we getting enough without the drugs? Dr Mark Porter looks at the tests doctors use to assess whether someone is suffering excessive daytime drowsiness, and investigates how paying more attention to the symptom could save lives, help snorers, and break our over dependence on SLEEPing tablets.

203D07Hair Loss Problems2004010620040107

Dr Mark Porter will exploring hairloss problems from male pattern baldness to excessive loss in PREGNANCY and will be finding out which hair loss remedies work and which don't, and also finding the secret to a dandruff-free scalp.


Britain is in the grip of an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections.

The number of cases of gonorrhoea has doubled in the last 5 years - the number of confirmed syphilis cases has risen tenfold.

But Chlamydia remains the most worrying infection.

As many as 1 in 10 men and women under 25 now carry the infection, which is a major cause of female infertility.

Most will have no symptoms and remain unaware they, or their partners, have a problem.

Chlamydia can be detected using a urine test and most cases can be cured with just a one off dose of antibiotic.

Is it time we had a routine national screening programme? Dr Mark Porter investigates the leading issues in sexual health.

203D09 LASTScreening2004012020040121

This week, in the last in the current series, Dr Mark Porter looks at screening tests - from Breast to Cervical to Prostate and bowel - which screening tests are worth our while, and are there some we shouldn't worry about?

204B01Antibiotic Use2004040620040407

in the UK is falling, but is it too little too late? We are already dealing with the legacy of decades of overuse - as well as encouraging a new breed of resistant superbugs, antibiotics have been linked to breast cancer, the inflammatory bowel condition Crohn's disease and childhood ASTHMA.

But is it all true? Should we be shelving antibiotics for probiotics - and if so, is eating yoghurt the best way to boost our immune system? Find out in the new series of Case Notes with Dr Mark Porter

204B02A & E2004041320040414

How do we use our accident and emergency departments? Dr Mark Porter visits a busy A&E to see what services they offer, and how you can get more for your time in your local emergency department.

Many people just go when there's a real emergency - a heart attack or broken bone - but why is the waiting room full of seemingly well people? The Morning After Pill is available at A&E, and other services too - but should we be relying on them to provide these services when our GPs and pharmacies cover similar ground? The Department of Health is trying to reorganise these departments so that we use them more efficiently.

Case Notes investigates how the new system will work, and looks at how patients and staff feel about the changes.

How do we use our accident and emergency departments? Dr Mark Porter visits a busy A+E to see what services they offer, and how you can get more for your time in your local emergency department.

Many people just go when there's a real emergency - a heart attack or broken bone - but why is the waiting room full of seemingly well people? The Morning After Pill is available at A+E, and other services too - but should we be relying on them to provide these services when our GPs and pharmacies cover similar ground? The Department of Health is trying to reorganise these departments so that we use them more efficiently.


We all know where babies come from, yet how aware are we of our fertility? More and more people are using medical interventions in order to conceive, but most fertility experts feel that a little lesson in biology would help a lot of people stop worrying about getting pregnant.

GP Dr Mark Porter takes a look at fertility, finding out what the NHS does provide, and what you will need to pay for, plus how the most recent guidelines from the Department of Health will affect you if you are planning a family.

204B04Gene Testing2004042720040428

is now widely available to help detect inherited conditions like cystic fibrosis in would-be parents unwittingly carrying the disease, but what about the screening tests offered by private clinics that can claim to assess everything from your risk of developing osteoporosis to the your odds of dying prematurely of a stroke or heart attack.

How useful are these tests? And, if they become widespread, could the resulting information create a genetic underclass? GP Dr Mark Porter takes a look at what's available to us and how we should use this information.

204B05Heart Attacks2004050420040505

Would you know what to do if someone had a heart attack? Tune in to Case Notes to hear Dr Mark Porter be put through the paces at one of the most Hi-tech training grounds for Doctors as he attempts to save Simulation Man's life with CPR.


This week Dr Mark Porter goes in search of new vaccines - for HIV, peanut allergies and cancers.

Also, what should you be vaccinating yourself against on your travels - do you still need to bother with Yellow Fever and Diptheria?

Find out what's new in the world of vaccinations.

Thousands of patients are giving blood transfusions every day in the NHS - in many cases to replace blood lost during major SURGERY.

Transfusions can be life-saving but they can cause problems too - in the past they have spread infection (HIV and Hepatitis C) and recent research suggests they may impair immunity in cancer patients.

Dr Mark Porter investigates two alternative approaches that involve giving the patient their own blood - either from donations made prior to planned SURGERY, or via recycling during the operation.

204B08National Smile Week2004051820040519

This week's Case Notes falls in National Smile Week, a promotion from dental charity the British Dental Health Foundation.

Dr Mark Porter and the team will be taking a look at how your oral health can tell you a bit more about your body's health, as inflamed gums are a powerful predictor of a person's odds of dying prematurely from heart disease and stroke, and it could increase the odds of developing DIABETES and bringing on premature labour.

This week Dr Mark Porter goes in search of new vaccines - for HIV, peanut allergies and cancers.

Also, what should you be vaccinating yourself against on your travels - do you still need to bother with Yellow Fever and Diptheria? Find out what's new in the world of vaccinations.


This week Dr Mark Porter goes in search of new vaccines - for HIV, peanut allergies and cancers.

Also, what should you be vaccinating yourself against on your travels - do you still need to bother with Yellow Fever and Diptheria? Find out what's new in the world of vaccinations.


Forty years ago autism was thought to affect less than 1 per 1000 of the population.

Today that figure is closer to 1 in 100 - that's half a million people across the UK.

Now that links with the MMR vaccine have largely been dismissed, is it simply a matter of better awareness and more inclusive diagnostic criteria, or is there something else going on? And why is autism four times more common in boys? Dr Mark Porter finds out the latest on the condition and its treatment.

204C01Get Fit And Get Well Food2004081020040811

Dr Mark Porter presents the series on health issues.

This edition investigates the OBESITY epidemic that seems to be sweeping the nation - but how fit do we really need to be, and just how much fat can we get away with and still be healthy?

Dr Mark Porter visits an OBESITY clinic where exercise and education is making a difference in the lives of children in the area.

He speaks to staff in charge of what you should eat post-operation - lying in bed recovering from SURGERY needs more calories than you think.

Plus, if you're under weight, the healthy way to gain weight.

We'll also be finding out about healthy living supplement.

The government is soon to announce its suggestion to Kitemark supplements for athletes.

Other vitamins and supplements are currently being given awards by chemists, yet how do you know the product you are taking has been endorsed by the right people and for the right reasons?

204C02Prescription Drugs2004081720040818

The NHS spends around £150 per person per year on medicines dispensing 750 million prescriptions - that's roughly one prescription per month for every person in the country.

GP prescribing costs have doubled in the last 10 years and doctors are under increasing pressure to cut back on the number of drugs they prescribe, and to use the cheapest alternative wherever possible.

But is this affecting patient care? Are patients being palmed off with second-rate treatments, or is it simply a case of the NHS getting one over on the pharmacy industry by getting the same for less? And what can you do to cut the cost of your drugs? Find out with Dr Mark Porter in Case Notes.

204C03Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis And Lupus2004082420040825

Dr Mark Porter goes in search of the latest treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Lupus.

He finds out who can have them and - most importantly - when.


British GPs issued 30 million prescriptions for antidepressants last year - double the number issued in 1994 - but new research suggests that the drugs offer little benefit to most people with the more common milder forms of DEPRESSION.

Is the NHS wasting millions of pounds that could be better spent on offering support and psychotherapy?

Dr Mark Porter goes in search of answers.


34 years after The Pill first became available, Case Notes takes a look at how long we'll have to wait before men have a reliable hormonal contraceptive to help share the burden.

Also, Dr Mark Porter will be discussing the options women have to reduce the number of hysterectomies carried out in the UK and how we are tackling the teenage PREGNANCY issue across the country.

204C06 LASTDiabetes2004091420040915

Some doctors say there is an epidemic of DIABETES in the Western world, and with 1.4 million people with diagnosed DIABETES, and another 'missing million' more people with the condition as yet undiagnosed, they may be right.

The condition is where the body doesn't produce any or enough insulin, a hormone that relocates glucose in the blood stream to cells in our bodies where it is converted to energy.

Thus people with this problem find themselves incredibly tired as they can't seem to get enough energy, urinate a lot as the body tries to rid itself of so much glucose in the bloodstream, increased thirst, and weight loss as the body tries to find other sources of energy.

There are two types of DIABETES, one where the body's own immune system fights against the production of insulin, and the other where insulin produced is unable to do the job properly or the body doesn't produce enough.

204D01The Waiting Game2004121420041215

Figures show that the number of patients in ENGLAND waiting for hospital treatment is now at its lowest level for years.

This has been achieved by more resources, government initiatives and changing working practices.

But there are questions over who is getting treated first - are they the simpler cases? And even if diagnosis of cancer is rapid, how long are patients then waiting for chemo or RADIOTHERAPY? Other parts of the UK - Wales for example - are not doing as well at reducing waiting times.


Dr Mark Porter investigates The Waiting Game.

204D02Urinary Incontinence2004122120041222

t's thought that as many as one in five women over the age of 40 suffer from urinary INCONTINENCE of some form.

But it's hard to gather these STATISTICS as this is a condition that many people don't want to talk about, even with their doctors.

This may be because they think that nothing can be done to improve the situation.

Women are prone to develop urinary INCONTINENCE after PREGNANCY and childbirth.

In men it is the growth of the Prostate gland that causes the problem: as the Prostate gets larger with age it presses on the BLADDER.

Dr Mark Porter talks to doctors about the range of treatments available for both men and women, from self help activities such as pelvic floor exercises to SURGERY and drugs.


All that rich CHRISTMAS food may have left you with indigestion.

Should you be taking over the counter medicines to counteract the unpleasant symptoms, or should you be visiting your GP?

Indigestion can be masking a serious underlying condition.

What should parents do with babies who have problems with their digestion? Dr Mark Porter reports.

204D04Lung Diseases2005010420050105

Around a quarter of deaths in the UK are due to diseases of the lung, such as ASTHMA, LUNG cancer, EMPHYSEMA and BRONCHITIS.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest treatments for some of these common lung conditions.


Many of us suffer from the winter blues - but for some it's much more serious and they seek out all sorts of gadgets to help ease their symptoms with light.

But what evidence is there that they work?

Dr Mark Porter finds out how light is being used to treat everything from acne to cancer.

204D06Prison Medicine2005011820050119

In 1991 the BMA reported that the health needs of prisoners were being ignored.

Dr Mark Porter visits Chelmsford Prison to find out if things have changed.

204D08Joint Replacements2005020120050202

Mark Porter takes an inside look at JOINT REPLACEMENTS.

Hip replacements were first developed in the 1960s and revolutionised life for those with hip arthritis.

Knee joints were harder to develop but are now one of the most common operations in the country.

Case Notes examines the newest techniques, what to expect after an operation and which joints could be replaced in the future.

204D09Wound Healing2005020820050209

After SURGERY, how quickly you get back to normal depends on how quickly and easily the wound heals.

Case Notes considers the evidence for optimum recovery and Dr Mark Porter has some tips on how people can aid the process themselves.

204D10 LASTMoorfields Eye Hospital2005021520050216

The oldest specialist eye hospital in the world, Moorfields in LONDON, is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Dr Mark Porter visits their A&E department, finds out how careless contact lens wearers could lose their sight, and the latest news on LASER EYE SURGERY.


Most women enjoy a healthy nine months of PREGNANCY.

But for some it can be a medical ordeal and they may spend time in hospital.

In the first of the new series of Case Notes, Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest medical treatments for conditions that make PREGNANCY a dangerous time for the mother or the baby.

There's a report from LIVERPOOL on a new way of preventing premature births and news of how vitamins might hold the key to understanding pre-eclampsia.

Around one in ten women develops the condition called pre-eclampsia during PREGNANCY, and the only known "cure" is to deliver the baby.

The earlier this happens, the more risky for the baby, and around 500 babies die every year as a result of being born too soon because of pre eclampsia.

Researchers are trying to find out what triggers this condition which occurs when the PLACENTA (which is the life support system for the unborn child) isn't working properly.


You might only be aware of your heart beating when you are anxious - but if it's working properly, it beats away 24 hours a day, at a rate of around 60-80 beats a minute.

Mark Porter reports on conditions in which the heart rate is very fast, very slow or irregular and may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be checked out.

205B03Deep Vein Thrombosis2005061420050615

As the holiday season approaches and more people take long flights to faraway places, DVT - DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS - will be back in the news.

Dr Mark Porter reports on the latest research into the diagnosis and treatment of thrombosis, including DVT.

Mark talks to doctors about how they decide who's at risk of developing thrombosis and whether they should be given blood thinning drugs.


More than 150 years ago LIVERPOOL's Alder Hey Hospital became the first specialist children's hospital in Britain.

Dr Mark Porter hears about the range of treatments now available at the hospital - from constipation clinics to eye SURGERY - where 200,000 children are treated every year by teams of SURGEONS, play therapists, ANAESTHETISTS and specialist nurses.


The sound of the DENTISTs drill can put many of us on edge, but for those with dental phobia its a terrifying experience.

Mark Porter explores what today's DENTISTs can do for our dental health, from support for the phobic to high tech dental treatments.

205B06First Aid2005070520050706

Would you know what to do if someone in a restaurant started choking or a child had an asthma attack? First aid is no longer the sole responsibility of doctors and the St John Ambulance, we all have a role to play whether we're at a football match or witness a road accident.

Dr Mark Porter reports on how we can be trained to know what to do when we witness a medical incident.

205B07Hearing And Balance2005071220050713

Our ears are not only for hearing - they are also part of the mechanism that controls our balance.

Dr Mark Porter looks at what can go wrong with our ears and the latest ideas on treatment.

There's the debilitating condition of vertigo, where people feel like the rest of the world around them is moving when they're are completely still.

Case Notes hears from sufferers in Yorkshire about how they cope with the condition.

And if you have ringing in your ears you may have been listening to music too loud, and have developed tinnitus, which affects around 1 in 10 people.


Dr Mark Porter discovers how patients get referred to NHS homeopathic hospitals and for what kind of conditions.

He explores the relationship between homeopathy and orthodox medicine in conversation with experts who have been trained in both.