In yesterday's blog I mentioned that today I was going to be able to see my favorite structure of the brain. Can you guess what structure that was??... Yes, you guessed right.. it was the Amygdala. I went to MED101 really exited about getting to see a structure that is only 1.24 cm in length.
We walked up three flights of stairs to get to our class and sat waiting for our instructors to begin our daily lesson. Before getting on to actually look at brains, one of our instructors, Alex, gave a lecture on the pathology of the brain and what could go wrong within the brain.
Today's lecture was particularly interesting in comparison to all the other pathology presentations given on the past two weeks. This presentation was very brief yet was still very interesting. Since we already knew about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, thanks to Roger, Alex went on to list many of the most common problems that could occur within the brain. Out of sole memory, I recall Alex talking about the two types of headaches. Alex talked about primary and secondary headaches. Primary because these certain headaches do not occur because of another issue in the brain, and secondary because something else is causing the headache. Primary headaches consist of Migraines, Tension headaches, and Cluster headaches. Whereas secondary headaches are usually caused by nasty diseases like Meningitis or by something as minuscule as a sinus infection.
After this, Alex went on to talk about other terrible things that may occur in the brain as a result of complications that may occur outside of the nervous system. Last week was focused on the heart and complications of the heart. It is very possible for complications in the circulatory system to affect other parts of the body, which in this case is the nervous system. To make better sense of this phenomena, a made-up scenario was presented.
"M is a 52 year old male who has come in to see his primary care physician because he is has lost sensation on the right side of his face and the left side of his upper and lower extremities. M has slurred speech and is feeling lightheaded and complains of a headache that is specific to the upper right portion of his head. All of M's vital signs are normal, minus his blood pressure which is at 200/70. M mentions that he has problems with regurgitation of the mitral valve and also has been hospitalized for a series of strokes." Most of these are all circulatory problems. How are problems within the circulatory system able to affect the nervous system?
This question was the main topic for the majority of our class time. We brainstormed reasons as to why the brain was being affected as a result of something that may have originated in the heart. We paid very close attention to the patient's symptoms and all came to the agreement that these were all symptoms of a stroke. The only question left unanswered was how the heart and brain were connected in this context and the type of stroke that was taking place.
During the unit on the circulatory system, it was presented that things like mitral regurgitation may lead to blood clots, which may travel freely throughout the body, perhaps vessels in the brain. Based on M's medical history, this was the underlying problem. M has released a blot clot that has made its way up to a vessel in the sensory strip of the brain, which explains why he has lost sensation on most of his extremities. The only question left is whether this stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic. In order to determine whether M has an ischemic or hemorrhagic stoke we would have to use a CT scan. After further inspection, it turns out that a blood vessel has blocked the blood's pathway to the remaining portion of the brain. This is an ischemic stroke. In order to treat this type of stoke, the patient must consume blood thinners to allow for blood to flow to the remaining parts of the brain. After this procedure, the patient is then able to partake in regular daily activities, well after his blood pressure is lowered. His blood pressure is pretty high. In order for his brain to receive as much as oxygenated-blood as possible, the blood pressure must be lowered to promote healthy and stable blood flow.
After this case, the group was left with the knowledge that all systems of the body are intertwined. If something goes wrong in one part of the body, it affects the rest of the body.
Although I took a lot of this blog to explain how systems of the body are connected, the Amygdala, with the company of slices of brain tissue, was the sole purpose of this blog. In one short paragraph, I will say that the "Almond" is much better in person and that a neuron, as insignificant as it may seem, is now the reason why I love the brain even more. I looked at the brain tissue through a microscope, and saw nearly a dozen of neuron cell bodies... It brought tears to my eyes, and for a reason I did not know. I just got very emotional to the sight of a brain cell. Perhaps this is a revelation that neuroscience is the field for me?? Who knows... I still have many other careers to choose from.